[OLPC-Games] Introduction and howdy!

Kent Quirk kent_quirk at cognitoy.com
Tue Apr 3 01:14:38 EDT 2007


Thanks for writing.

The whole games process for the OLPC platform is just beginning to come 
together. I'd encourage you to ask these questions on the wiki at 
wiki.laptop.org...but I'll give you a brief flavor of where I think 
things are.

First, please understand that I do not speak for OLPC, and I've only 
been involved for a few weeks.

As a professional game developer, what I'm trying to do is to carry 
forward the philosophy I've seen in the OLPC environment, which is to 
put together a set of tools in an open and public fashion, and then let 
people do what they will.

Some of what gets produced will be great, some of it won't be. Some of 
it may ship preinstalled on the unit, other items may be available for 

One Huge Game is not where anyone wants to be, as far as I can tell. A 
diversity of content aimed a wideranging audience is what's called for. 
Ideally, things that have educational value (by encouraging creativity 
and skill development) without being "edutainment". Some of it will be 
pure entertainment value -- but even there, we hope it will leverage 
other things like interpersonal communication. For example, I think most 
people involved with the platform would much prefer to see a multiplayer 
checkers game that is graphically weak to a gorgeous 3D checkers game 
that is single player. Of course, ideally, we'd have both gorgeous and 

There are other important driving forces:

* The machine has limited performance (think non-3D computer from 1999, 
except the resolution is a bit higher -- which makes it effectively 
* The intent is to allow freedom to tinker -- the system is designed so 
that the children who use it should feel free to view the source to most 
everything on the machine and be able to modify it. So that means that 
open source games written in Python are much preferred.
* The children who have these machines won't be paying money for 
software. So Big Licenses aren't happening. In fact, I'll bet that even 
major international brands like Coke would be hard pressed to have high 
name recognition among the target market.

So the roadmap is as follows:

* Get SDL running (in the next few days, hopefully)
* Get PyGame running (on top of SDL). PyGame is a platform for most of 
the interesting game development going on in Python today, so it 
provides a nice base of resources for people, including the target 
market, to learn from.
* Get lots of games underway
* Build a couple of basic game toolkits, such as simple platforms for 
making adventure games, educational games, puzzle games, and the like.
* Ship as much as possible

Your thoughts and energy are encouraged. Please poke around the wiki; in 
particular, see this page:

We hope to hear more from you soon.

Thanks for your interest,


s g wrote:
> Hi all.
> I joined this list after finding the booth at GDC.  I've always 
> maintained that games can make learning fun and actually make it 
> stick!  I've been in the games industry for over 12 years and have 
> been designing the last 7 or so.  From what I've been able to find the 
> discussions have been mostly technical, are there any designs in 
> progress I can review or contribute too?
> A couple of other questions:
> What scope do we want?  One huge game where every child has an "Second 
> Life" experience, then ranging down to a simple flash based "click on 
> the red dot in the picture to win" games?  What are we initially 
> committing to?  How much game and is it spread out over a bunch of 
> games or a select few, or just one?
> What is our target audience?  Are we making games for children in 
> Sweden?  Tazmania?  What level of education are we expecting?  Will 
> they have these things at home or school only?  If through schools, 
> will the schools want control over the content?  Do we have any 
> educators on this list that can chime in?
> What kind of schedule(s) do we have?
> What kind of resources can we bring to bear?  Do we have commitments 
> from people willing to perform the traditional disciplines: code, 
> sound, art, design, production? 
> What licenses do we have available or have we approached?  Can we 
> tailor a game around a big license to acquire it?  Do we want to?  Big 
> Bird and Pokeman could teach me but I'm guessing I'm not our our 
> target audience.  Are there beloved mascots that are recognized 
> globally by our core audience?  Can we make games that swap out 
> beloved mascots based on regions?  I (naively?) assume that nearly any 
> company would be drooling after the PR that comes from being on board 
> with OLPC.
> I guess the last question would be about platform but from what I've 
> seen in the documentation that's already being worked on.  The only 
> thing I'd be curious about is when something is going to be stable 
> enough to try fleshing out some designs to.  Actually,one more thing 
> along these lines; can we use features built into the laptop like the 
> camera and networking capabilities and incorporate them into the games?
> Anyways, there's my first brain dump.  If these questions have been 
> addressed already please excuse my inability to find them, but please 
> do point me at the answers so I can join the conversation.  :)  And if 
> it's just too early to think about this stuff let me know when it's time.
> And BTW, I'm not a programmer (but can think like one with great 
> effort) so tailor your responses accordingly.  :)
> Best,
> SteveG.

Kent Quirk           I'm making a game about global warming.
Game Architect                        Track the progress at:
CogniToy                http://www.cognitoy.com/meltingpoint

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