Game on with Android and Ouya

All right Android users, I want you to be honest: how manyof you play games on your Android device? How many of you play a LOT of games?Yeah, sure. Angry Birds counts.

Gaming is one of the top uses for mobile devices, and athriving casual games business has sprung up to take advantage of the way manyof us are now choosing to relax.

In fact, many people seem to be choosing mobile over gamingconsoles these days, thanks to the more casual nature of mobile gaming; throughoutthe day you can drop in and out of a game often. But there are still a coregroup of gamers who want to play on a big screen with a bucket of chips athand.

That’s the rationale behind the new Kickstarter-funded Ouyaconsole: it’s an Android-powered console that’s scheduled to retail for only$99. Even better, with its positioning as an “open source” gaming platform,it’s designed to make it easier to creategames for the platform, too, something that’s more daunting for the otherconsoles.

Each console will have the ability to develop games without havingto purchase licenses or dev kits. The one condition? Each title created for theOuya must have at least some freegameplay. Oh, and the console will be easily hackable, too.

In other words, even if you charge money for your game,there has to be a playable demo that users can try out before sinking moneyinto it. That’s a world of difference from sinking $60 into an Xbox game onlyto find out that it sucks.

Hardware-wise, the console won’t be bleeding edge, but it’snot intended to be. It’ll come with Tegra 3 processor/graphics, a gig of RAMand 8 gigs of flash storage, and a 1080p HDMI connection to your television. It’llcome with one wireless controller, but you can buy additional controllers.There’ll be WiFi onboard, as well as Bluetooth 4.0, and a single USB port forexpansion. And the whole thing will be powered by Ice Cream Sandwich.

While other companies have tried to introduce alternategaming platforms (anyone remember the N-Gage?), there definitely appears to bea demand for this particular console. While the Kickstarter goal to bring thisconsole to production was $950,000, the total amount raised is now sitting atover $5 million, with over 20 days still to go. And, as a reminder for thosenot familiar with the Kickstarter concept: that’s just from people willing tofork over their money before the console is even in production.

Between this and the recent success of the Raspberry Pi, it’sclear that there’s a growing demand for open-source do-it-yourself hardwareprojects. Partly, it’s so people can set them up, roll up their sleeves, andstart to learn something. But of course, some people are interested because…well,because it’s just plain fun.


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