Hey, Sony. Hey, Microsoft. Hey, Nintendo.
Be afraid. Be very afraid.
I started gaming in the late ’90s. I still remember Christmas of 1997, when I unwrapped a brand new Nintendo 64 and a copy of GoldenEye. I remember playing that game and thinking “Man, there is no way games can get cooler than this.” But you know what? They did and they continue to do so. Video games are at a radical point in their development as a medium, where technology has finally allowed developers to translate their ultimate visions.
If we compare the evolution of video game development to filmmaking, we’re at the invention of the digital video camera. Making games isn’t just for the multi-millionaires anymore. You can do it. I can do it. Thanks to the app store and exciting new platforms like OUYA, indie game design is on the verge of kicking its niche label and reaching a whole new level.
Since it was posted on Kickstarter a few days ago, the proposed OUYA game console has hugely surpassed its $950,000 goal and has raised $4.5 million. For those of you not familiar with OUYA, here are the basics: it’s a reasonably priced console that would plug straight into your television and would offer a variety of games, all of which must be offer some form of free gameplay. The console will run on Android, meaning that this will be the first home console to run on the software Google created for its smartphones.
In other words, the same accessible software that made Google-powered smartphones accessible to indie game developers and new start-ups has been brought to the home. This is a potential renaissance for indie gaming, where the people behind incredible mobile experiences will now have he opportunity to create games that are meant to be played on your television. OUYA is not just an opportunity for complete developer freedom and a place where gamers can discover new games that aren’t called Halo 6 or Gears of War 18: this is a genuine threat to the downloadable options available on the XBox and the PlayStation 3. Serious gamers and the developers that cater to them may now have a new home.
Recently, I’ve been playing Call of Cthulhu: Wastelands, which may be one of the best mobile games I’ve ever played. Alex will have a full review next week so I don’t want to go into too much detail, but this a dense, gripping game that feels like its pushing against the limits of my iPhone. It feels like we’re hanging over a fascinating precipice: this game was made with the reasonably cheap (by comparison) tech required to create a mobile app, but I can easily imagine playing and enjoying this game on my home television. Freed from the confines of a tiny screen, what can these developers do with Android tech? What kind of imagination could Rovio, the creators of Angry Birds, bring to a 60″ television?
The next few years will see games (and how we play them) change in virtually every way. This is a revolution. And you know what? There is no better time to be a gamer.