Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Game-O The Handheld Console That You Can Program

Lots of kids enjoy playing games on a hand-held console, but what about programming them? Games consoles are usually closed environments with high overheads to being able to develop games for them, even just for education and fun.

The FES Game-O console wants to change all that. It's an open source console which has a programming environment that allows you to develop games for it and then play them.

Do you know a tween or teen who would like to learn to code and loves video games? The Game-O looks like it would be a great way to get started.

The Game-O is running as a Kickstarter campaign and is already well on its way to success.

The pledges start at $80 to get one of the consoles as a reward. They are aiming to ship the consoles in October 2013 so hopefully they'll be out in time to make an excellent techie Christmas gift.

The Game-O console itself is a small device with a 320 x 420 color display - that's low resolution but fine for learning purposes.

The Game-O has physical controls and an accelerometer for controlling games.

It is programmed (on a PC) using an environment that uses Microsoft C# or Visual Basic to code program logic. (C and assembler can be used for lower level routines.) Libraries are provided that allow games to be written using high level functions and easy access to the hardware controls and accelerometer.

You use a USB cable to connect the console to the PC to download your creation. And it runs of 3 AAA batteries.

I like this approach a lot. I learned to program on my Sinclair Spectrum by writing simple games. Having a hand-held console adds an extra level of fun and makes game development really tangible.

It's also a fun way for parents to learn to code by making games that their kids will enjoy. If you're considering a career change this could be a good way to pick up some skills. 

I'm really enjoying the trends we are seeing to open up technology and get kids creating rather than consuming. Excellent stuff.

Pledge: FEZ Game-O Programmable Console

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