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Rock Band, OLPC Style

Posted by: Matt Vella on March 28

olpc-xo.jpgFriday 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.

Rock Band, OLPC Style from Matt Vella on Vimeo.

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No longer child's play, the booming global games market is worth billions of dollars. In Games, Inc., BusinessWeek Innovation writer Matt Vella and Tokyo correspondent Kenji Hall analyze emerging business trends in video games and interactive entertainment. They’ll examine everything from button-mashing, chart-topping, console games to serious games commissioned by big corporations to train staff. They’ll also map the evolution of expansive virtual worlds and go behind the strategies at companies that are turning play into big business.

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