I’m sure I’ll be running across a flood of news today about Microsoft’s new Xbox 360. Of course, like everyone else I know who is into games, I’m curious about this new box (and Sony’s eventual response). I’m also wondering about issues like copy prevention measures and how difficult these systems will be to “mod” to circumvent them.
Even at $400, the next generation of game consoles will represent a good deal of game-centric computing power for a much lesser price than personal computers could match (though I’m sure there are folks here who could easily build a more powerful box using FS for even less—but, sadly, the best games still seem to be available only with non-free licenses). There has been some effort to create a freer, more open box for games—the GP32 springs to mind—but a far larger share of kids are growing up with proprietary boxes and media encrusted with code to force unnecessary scarcity. This is sad for a number of reasons. I think the time has come to start seriously thinking about broadening the scope of FS beyond servers and programmer-centric software and start thinking seriously about appealing to kids.
Bill Gates learned LONG ago that appealing to kids was the way to ensure the longevity of his software empire. So far, the GNU/Linux community has virtually ignored them. FS gaming development does of course exist, but to say it’s on the backburner is an understatement. Where is the Free XBox? Where is the massive support among the FS community for game software and hardware development? I can’t tell you how many hardcore FSOSS advocates I know have actually bought proprietary game consoles for their kids. This is bad news.
I can’t speak for everyone here, but what drew me to computers in the first place were videogames and fun apps—stuff that a smart 9 year old could get into. We need to be getting today’s 9-year olds into FS. Let’s give the kids something besides an Xbox 360 to ignite their synapses.