A new gaming device is raising money through Kickstarter in the hopes of bringing a bit of entertainment -- and education -- to the masses.
It's the latest version of Arduboy, which programmer Kevin Bates first demonstrated last year as a way of showing off his resume alongside a miniature version of "Tetris." The new Kickstarter aims to raise $25,000 to produce a new version of Arduboy which will allow people to play 8-bit games and even create their own.
If the Kickstarter is funded, Arduboy is expected to ship in October. The unit will cost $29 for the first 1,000 people who pledge and $39 otherwise.
The Arduboy fits right into your wallet. (Source)
Arduboy's make-your-own-game component helps it stand out from other portable video game systems. Between dedicated devices like the Nintendo 3DS and "Candy Crush"-filled smartphones, the world is basically filled with handheld video games already, but programming lessons are a different story.
President Barack Obama wrote his first line of code last year, and organizations like Code.org are trying to bring computer science education to more young people. Yet practical challenges still exist: Code.org says most schools don't offer computer programming classes, and fewer college students are majoring in computer science in recent years.
Realistically, Arduboy can't solve these problems, but its creator does hope it can make a difference for those who pick it up.
"My biggest inspiration is what Limor Fried has done with Adafruit," Bates told The Huffington Post of the popular website, which offers tutorials on making anything from an animatronic tail to wearable video goggles. "We would want to do something a little bit like that ... to take someone who has never programmed anything in their life and get them to a point where they are comfortable and confident to write a very simple game on their own."
Arduboy will offer free games like "Alien Attack," which looks a bit like classic "Space Invaders," and they're all open-source, which means users can edit them. There will also be online tutorials that offer step-by-step guides to help people make their own games.
Bates told HuffPost that the Arduboy is made to be accessible and that kids between the ages of 7 and 10 could probably be comfortable using it. The software is based on the Arduino programming platform, which Bates said is already used in schools.
Ideally, Arduboy could be a sort of gateway into a wider world of programming: Get hooked making a game and you might create the next breakthrough app.
"If you can learn how to program the Arduboy, you are creating software directly in the same way you would program for any other 'smart device'," Bates told HuffPost.
For example, Bates said an Arduboy programmer could learn to make a game and then apply that knowledge to a "smart shoe insole," which would identify problems with someone's running.
The Kickstarter has already raised over $8,000 since launching Monday morning. It has 29 days to reach the full $25,000.