Friday, September 09, 2005

"Unhackable" Xbox 360 - Dream killer?

It seems that Microsoft wants to make the Xbox 360 more difficult to hack according to this article from the BBC. This is just another in a long line of devices that manufacturers are trying to protect by using some manner of hardware key. Engadget reported something similar with a DVD player and of course Apple is likely to use some specialized hardware key to protect the AonI Macs when they arrive. So is there an issue here? Not really, it just means that some of the Ed Tech people's dreams of hacking these boxes to get something that could be used in an educational context has to be re-routed. Before, if there was an option to hack, then people would have done it. But now with a more secure system, it means one of two things. Teachers now have to be more creative when figuring out how to use off the shelf games (maybe check out resources like this - Teach-nology) or they can press textbook publishers and other instructional material providers to develop for the system that will likely have strong DRM to protect (and therefore profit from) their content. Personally I think the former is the better option. Nobody is going to get rich off of educational software (though some may be able to do well by it, others are suffering - take a look at this Canoe article on all the gadgets that are out there) so the later is likely not going to happen. The other thing to consider is that games these days have budgets that rival movies (and make more money than movies it seems) and educational software would have to be pretty well designed to even make any publisher notice (though going through WalMart or SuperStore you can see a fair number of kid friendly games - maybe these will show up on the consoles after some time if Sony and MS ever allow it). There are educational consoles like the V Smile that is targeted toward younger children, it is unlikely that there will be one for older kids, so why not "play the game" and make the best of the other games that are out there. So after all is said and done, it seems that the best thing to do if you want to use one of the next-gen consoles as part of your teaching toolkit, you might as well join the COTS (resources - Social Impact Games, GDC 2005 - via GameDev) camp. Technorati Tags: , , ,