Friday diversion: there’s an OLPC kicking around BusinessWeek’s offices and I got my mitts on it earlier today. Much has been written about the travails of the little laptop for youngsters in the world’s poorest countries, but what about the games?! The machine ships with a few educational-y titles, including the quasi-game-slash-music simulator in the video below. Looks like there’s even a little Rock Band light for the developing world.
Turns out, there is already a very small but vibrant community of OLPC game developers. A Boston-based game jam session last summer seems to have produced some interesting-if-rudimentary games for the machine. And, there’s the requisite Doom port, available here. (Why is Doom the benchmark game port for new hardware, I wonder…) Seems, also, that are plans for additional games.
What’s striking is that, despite the computer’s obvious faults, there’s a great deal of flexibility. There’s a joystick and button-like set of keys on the screen which almost turns the OLPC into a gamepad with the screen folded down. That – its Linux-based operating system – could lead to some interesting experiments if programmers target the little device.