The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) Project is asking software coders to develop free, open-source educational computer games for the XO laptop, continuing its push toward a September launch date.
OLPC on Thursday offered a laptop prize for software teams who create new games during a three-day “game jam” scheduled to begin June 8 on the campus of Olin College, an engineering school in Needham, Massachusetts.
“The purpose of the game jam is getting people together to hack for a couple of days. Hopefully this will be the first of many,” said SJ Klein, OLPC’s director of content.
XO users already have their choice of certain games in a “Pygames” library of open-source applications written in the Python programming language, and the XO’s eToys application that allows children to create their own basic media and games, he said.
But in the game jam, developers could create new types of games that rely on features of the XO’s design such as mesh networking between nearby users, an integrated still or video camera, and a tablet mode for mobile gaming.
“There aren’t too many games right now that take advantage of mesh style networking,” said Klein, referring to the XO’s ability to use Wi-Fi to communicate with other users up to a kilometer away, and display them as icons on its Sugar interface. “There are networked games, sure, but they aren’t sensitive to the ability to display the presence of other users depending on where they are in relation to you, or to pop up on the screen when they are close enough.”
Beyond creating games that teach specific tasks like counting or reading, OLPC hopes the contest will produce templates that allow kids to build their own games, according to OLPC’s development guidelines.
Gaming May 26th, 2007