I learned this week that there is a movement around building things for a ten dollar computer (playpower.org). The existence of these computers, which can be found, for example, in marketplaces in Mumbai, came about due to a combination of two things: patents running out on old 6502 processing chips from the 1970s, and the propensity of small manufacturers in China to throw things together quickly and cheaply, if they see a market.
Given all the hype about the iPad and other relatively expensive devices, it’s intriguing that there is a computer inexpensive enough to be in the hands of a fairly large proportion of the world’s population — and in particular, the world’s children. Educational games made for such a platform (assuming they are well made) could easily reach a far higher proportion of children around the globe than anything we are currently doing that aims at a higher end platform.
There is something immensely appealing about the idea that illiteracy — one of the key contributors to endemic poverty — might be battled by enlisting the technological power of old video games.