The creative geniuses behind the Drawdio and Makey Makey have announced a new kickstarter. This is GameBender, a game console that lets kids experiment and hack code in new and creative ways. Kids can start simply, by playing a game or enjoying an augmented reality experience, and with the press of a “code” button on the controller, they can begin to explore the possibilities available with code. They don’t need to leave the game and compile, they don’t need to follow lessons. They can simply play, either the way the game wants, or with the code that comprises it.
Right now, you can get the founder’s addition for $299 (estimated retail of ($399). This gets you the console, controller, camera, 3D Glasses, and some “glitch cards” to walk you through some quick hacks. For an additional $100, you can upgrade to the social addition which includes more glasses and “glitch” cards as well as a keyboard and full curriculum.
I talked with Jay Silver a bit about the project and he was nice enough to answer some questions
Calling it a game system, and pricing it similarly to something like a Nintendo Switch puts you in some pretty tough competition. Do you feel like this will be a hurdle to overcome?
We are always a trojan horse. We are never what we say we are. Makey Makey isn’t competing with game controllers in a straightforward way, and GameBender is not competing with game consoles. Makey Makey is an invention kit for the physical world, and a physical digital duct tape. GameBender is an invention kit for the digital world. We need a “hardware store” for the digital world so you can spray paint games, cut apps in half, and hot glue a TV show to a movie.
Of course we are also a game console, just one that tries to revolutionize the concept of playing games by making the creation part of the playing process. If you find yourself wanting more nutritious gaming, or if you don’t want to keep buying games after you have already bought the system, or if you really love playing games made by you and your peers, then GameBender is right for you.
You may note we are also priced a lot like the higher end STEM tools. That doesn’t necessarily mean we are in competition with them, the maker world isn’t about competition.
You list several experiences that are available now, do you have plans for more content?
With 60 glitches available to apply to millions of sprites, there are already hundreds of millions of possibilities. But yes we will continue to develop new glitches.
A curriculum seems to be an important feature, do you envision this system primarily used in educational environments?
We are shipping with Code Class 101 and 25 code cards. We see this curriculum (which you can use at home without being a teacher) as a great way to get started coding. We will also release Code Class 201, 301, and 401, which will take you through to being an expert coder.
We never design primarily for an educational environment. Makey Makey was designed for play, invention, and fun! A few years later it became a favorite in schools and is now ordered by many school districts and educational distributors and used in thousands of schools. GameBender is no different. We designed it for pure awesome hilariousness, laughing with your friends, and fueling your creative fires. We happen to think this is the best way to design a tool for an educational environment.