Apple may or may not have thought about the Apple TV as a gaming platform when the latest version was released last year, but the makers of Real Racing certainly gave it serious consideration when designing an update to the racing sim. That company, Firemint, has announced that Real Racing 2 HD will be the first game to support wireless gaming using Apple's AirPlay feature (when iOS 5 is released). On its blog, Firemint points out that this isn't mere mirroring, where what is shown on the iPad is just also displayed on your TV. Instead, the race is beamed from the iPad to the Apple TV to display on your set (in 1080p HD), while the racing data is displayed on your tablet. One drawback for first-generation iPad owners is that this dual-screen mode is only available for the iPad 2 (presumably needing more graphics and computing power than the original iPad can provide).
While it can't replace a PS3 or an Xbox 360 in terms of dedicated a full-featured gaming console, the iPad/Apple TV gaming combo could be a nice value-add for people who already have the devices and are just starting to reap the benefits of the AirPlay functionality that Apple recently introduced. It will also be competing with OnLive's new iPad app, which, among other things, will let you play games on your HDTV while using the tablet as a controller if you have the company's MicroConsole TV Adapter, priced similarly to the Apple TV at $100. Both options are storming living rooms before Nintendo's Wii U console arrives next year, with a tablet-like controller with built-in display.
Real Racing 2 HD certainly won't be the last iPad game that will take advantage of dual-screen capabilities, so we'll just have to stay tuned to see how game developers take advantage of it.