boutique handheld discourse has me really wishing there was a homebrew platform that excelled at:
- cheap, widely available, open (as much as possible) hardware
- SDK + simulator that runs on anything
- large community of people hacking on it & sharing knowledge
- diverse, welcoming culture that views games as an art form, doesn't care about the boundary between "game" and other stuff
Raspberry Pi or any of the other hobbyist boards could be a component of this, but is not this by itself. i guess a system like PICO-8 can basically create its own platform atop almost anything else (web, desktop PC, mobile, tiny hobbyist PC).
I really, really wish OUYA had had different people in charge of its platform vision and marketing. If they'd pointed it squarely at homebrewers, it would've given backers and players much healthier expectations, and I think it'd still be thriving today.
One challenge is that a huge amount of the resources invested in tooling today happens around the two big commercial game engines, which don't really care about being able to target cheap, weak hardware (and their editors running on it is totally out of the question). A new wave of homebrew engines and tools has been gathering for the past ~5 years, but it still has a ways to go before its energy can change things in a big way.
These kinds of projects will almost always have an air of, for want of a better term, "junkiness" about them. Everything that people fetishize about Apple products is absent - carefully designed branding, packaging, a single company controlling everything about the product and its use. And this is fine; we should embrace this, while being firmly committed to "approachability" as distinct from the Apple slickness that has seized a lot of the rhetorical territory around approachability.
I try to think of these hardware and software project goals as acts of political imagination: in a world that has stopped capitalism's stranglehold on our species, what does personal computing look like? What choices do we have, how does ownership work, what are the aesthetics? What does it mean for technology to have aesthetics independently of consumerism?
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