By John Oram in California @ Monday, March 16, 2009 4:40 PM
| ||ETech 2009: Derek Lomas, co-founder of Playpower spoke extensively with ITExaminer about his goals. The company is working on building the infrastructure for porting backwards from 32-bit Adobe Flash and Sun Java developments to the 8-bit 6502 microprocessor environment. |
Playpower was founded by researchers from UC-San Diego, MIT, Stanford University, Srishti School, and the University of São Paulo. They are receiving additional support from the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2).
Lomas said that Playpower believes because of the memory constraints of 8-bit programming, young students will develop some of the conservative styles of coding that lead to breakthroughs that often occurred in the past. He feels those restricted memory programming techniques will apply to today's mobile phone platforms. Also the 8-bit environment lends itself to learning games and interactive alternative endings for games. Lomas says the alternative–ending text games are no longer at the forefront of today's 32-bit games. Instead, game developers are relying heavily on high-power GPUs, near real life animation, and video segments.
Lomas said that when an 8-bit computer is plugged into a TV display in Africa or India, there is usually more than one person involved with a pair of game controllers. Two person involvement is often missing in today's high powered 32-bit games. He believes this is an important component of the learning process.
Lomas said that after an Indian, African, or Vietnamese youth learns to type, they can apply for jobs that pay per hour what they often could make in a day. Thus, they can support their family as well as learn new skills.
What is lacking is translating into local dialects for broader enjoyment. Lomas said that Playpower is aiming to involve young students in the work of translation. He added that with the world wide enthusiasm for the Oscar winning movie Slumdog Millionaire, game show applications are suddenly popular again. They play very well on 8-bit computers.
Lomas wanted to make sure ITExaminer understood that Playpower was not wedded to only the 8-bit platform. He said that the 16-bit hardware is near the end of its patent life expectancy. So it, too, could become a candidate for open architecture licensing concepts.
Of course, there is the pure entertainment aspect of Playpower's ideas. At their Etech 2009 presentation, Playpower's team of Douglass, Lomas and Rehn jammed with collaborator, and 8-bit musician, Jordan Gray. They started us off with 8-bit funky rap music backed by a self-produced 32-bit video for a highly entertaining few minutes. At first, some of us stodgy old geeks wondered what we had stepped into.
We saw the multiplicity of options that Playpower presented There was something for everybody in the audience from hardware folks, to the bit twiddlers, as well as the visual and audio artists out there. Organisation skills are necessary to pull all the discrepant parts into a cohesive eco system that is not married to a specific type of platform.
This is what makes Playpower's ideas so intriguing. The transfer of knowledge from those that are involved day-to-day to those that are just starting out. We will keep track of how the transfer of knowledge flows back and forth between today's 32-bit platforms and yesterday's 8 and 16 bit computers. X
$12 Indian computer tips up in Silicon Valley
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