OUYA kickstarts their future
Published: Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, August 22, 2012 11:08
With the sophistication and complexity of today’s video games, it’s hard to imagine that the first commercial home video game console began appearing in North American homes 40 years ago in 1972. Since then, the video game industry has undergone innumerable advances, which have driven its estimated value to upwards of $100 billion worldwide.
Ralph Baer, known as “The Father of Video Games”, is a German engineer perhaps best known for his original creation, the “brown box”; the first video game console to hook up to a standard television. The console itself featured very basic games, and after deciding to license the product to Magnavox, it was renamed and sold as the Magnavox Odyssey in 1972. In doing this, Baer essentially started the home console video game industry.
It didn’t take long for other companies to appear, flooding an industry that was still in its infancy with their own video game console offerings. However, an over-saturation of poorly developed, low quality games would eventually lead to a crash in the video game industry in 1983, with some experts believing video gaming had come to its end.
Fast-forward 30 years and it’s clear that those analysts were incorrect about the longevity of video games. Today, some video games have $100 million budgets; merchandise including t-shirts, toys, novels/comics; Hollywood movies based on them, and the element that makes the preceding all possible: legions of die hard fans.
But where do these fans come from? And what makes video games so enjoyable for them?
Sarjis Amin, an Interactive Arts and Science (IASC) major at Brock University was part of a team of students who created a video game last year titled “Thread: The Fabric of Fate” in their IASC 4F00 class. Amin is a fan of video games and for him, video games are mainly about the story.
“I really became fond of the idea of stories. I’ve always felt that stories are something we all share. We all have our own stories, our own experiences; anyone can be a great storyteller,” said Amin.
“That’s why I chose to become a video game designer because I thought it would be an amazing medium to tell stories. Would I be okay with telling a story through film – yes. Would I be okay telling a story in comic books or novels – yes, absolutely, but I feel that video games are another thing entirely. You’re not reading about Achilles, you are Achilles.”
With our adaptation of Smartphones and Tablets, mobile gaming has become the fastest growing segment in the video game industry. Although this has opened doors for many new types of gamers, including people who would never have played video games before, there are a lot of mixed feelings regarding the recent trend. Some believe mobile gaming will be the death of console video games, while others believe the two can exist simultaneously.
Mobile gaming has become very popular due to its casual like gameplay, its large selection of very affordable games and its portability. Video game developers are able to make these games inexpensively and quickly when compared to a traditional console game.
“Indie developers have shown [that] you don’t need lots of money to make great games,” said Amin. “There are a lot of these developers that don’t have the resources, but they can tell such great stories and create amazing game mechanics.”
Julie Uhrman, founder and CEO of OUYA, thought this too, so she decided to create a new type of video game console – The OUYA.
Introduced through Internet funding platform Kickstarter, the OUYA (pronounced OOO-yah) is a new video game console set to launch in Mar. 2013. From July 10 to Aug. 9, the project raised approximately $8.6 million, the second highest amount ever raised through a Kickstarter campaign.
The OUYA is different from consoles currently on the market. OUYA will look to bring some of that unique, indie-developed content to the TV, thus opening a world of possibility for developers. The console will run Android 4.0 software, which will allow developers to create their own games using a familiar operating system (OS), while also giving them the ability to release their games to the public via a virtual store. Essentially, the OUYA has the potential to combine the best elements of mobile and console gaming.
“I’m an optimist and I want to see where [the OUYA] will go, but ultimately it takes more than just the new video game console to make itself successful, you need the games to back it,” said Amin.
Video game developer Square Enix should help with that, as they’ve already announced that they will help launch the new system with their Final Fantasy III title.
OUYA has also partnered up with game streaming service OnLive, live video game broadcasting Web site TwitchTV and will feature music videos from VEVO, open source media application XMBC and radio streaming services from TuneIn and iHeartRadio. OUYA will support a HDMI connection to a TV (up to 1080p resolution) and includes WiFi, Bluetooth and Ethernet connectivity – all in a device about the size of a Rubik’s Cube with a listed price of $99.
While it looks quite promising, it’s difficult to determine at this point whether the OUYA will be a success or not.
Nevertheless, the console has potential and how companies like Sony or Microsoft react should tell us just how much.
To check out OUYA, visit their Web site at ouya.tv or their Kickstarter page at kickstarter.com/projects/ouya/ouya-a-new-kind-of-video-game-console