Your whole life has been leading to that one moment when you paid too much and strapped on the Apple Watch. But you think it was sent from one of Apple’s factories in China? Pfft. It’s been sent by your father–your real father, a father you never really knew, but he’s been tailing you since the age of five, training you for this moment. Now something has gone terribly wrong. And you need to take over the family business: awesome secret agent stuff.
This is the premise of Spy Watch, one of the first wave of games for the Apple Watch. Developed by Bossa Studios, the same quirky studio that brought us the toasting adventure I Am Bread, Spy Watch transforms your luxe wearable into the James Bondian gadget to which so many writers have likened it.
Through a series of notifications–text messages for your wrist, essentially–you have to operate a global spy network. You’ll need to train agents, balance a budget, and direct operatives during missions. But for Bossa Studios, it’s not just an adolescent fantasy come to life; it’s a smart way to design gaming for a 1.5-inch screen that has limited touch controls, UI design, and can’t even run its own apps.
“We always look at a new platform and try to work out what its strengths are, and the Apple Watch does some things very well. We just tried to work out how we could leverage those things to deliver an interesting game,” explains Bossa Studios COO Vince Farquharson. “It is very good at handling quick interactions which can be completed by the time you’d have historically have been able to get your phone out of you pocket, it’s basically the ultimate notification center, so we tried to work out how we could build on that.”
When you first start a new mission, you’ll need to select parameters on your iPhone, including how long the mission lasts, what type of mission it is, and who your target is (yes, you can choose to rescue the President). But after that, the game plays out on your wrist through terse messages and multiple choice options, where it will force you to manage a clandestine series of events with little regard to your plebeian subway rides and corporate meetings that may be happening at the same time. You in essence become a secret agent hiding from the public humiliation that you are pretending to be a secret agent.
Cheesy? Totally. But it’s also an ingeniously literal manifestation of what gaming can be on the Apple Watch. Because how many people who are buying the first-generation watch are really buying into the fantasy that they are part of some exclusive club or elite society? Spy Watch turns the Apple Watch into exactly what every hardcore consumer needs it to be: Something special to break up the humdrum of life.