This one might seem to fall slightly out of Offworld’s purview, but PlayPower’s Daniel Rehn is a new friend of the site, and they’re actually doing something both a.) wonderful and humanitarian and b.) closer to home than you’d think.
The PlayPower organization‘s mission is to turn cheap, ubiquitous 8-bit ‘TV computers’ (read: NES/Famicom clones) into ~$10 games-enabled learning devices for the developing world (versus manufacturing custom hardware, as with the OLPC), and they’re enlisting a lot of familiar names to help kickstart the program.
Namely, as Wired’s excellent and exhaustive new feature points out, they’ve tapped the NES hacking resources of 8bitpeoples for help with programming and providing music for new learning games, specifically No Carrier, who helped program Alex Mauer‘s excellent NES-cart-album Vegavox (YouTube).
They’re also tapping into Bob Rost’s NES Basic compiler nBasic which he taught as a Carnegie Mellon course several years back — student creation Dikki Painguin was co-written by World of Goo‘s Wii programmer Allan Blomquist, with fellow 2D Boy Kyle Gabler contributing music.
As you can see, then, all of the PlayPower crew have solid games-related backgrounds which they’re using to giving the product more vitality and appeal, and they’re currently seeking new designs for learning games: check the full wiki and the blog for more details on that, and the group expects to start releasing dev kits soon via MakerSHED.
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