I was watching a show on the history of the Game industry the other night… it was probably on CNBC or some other cable station and they talked about how the game Tetris had been one of the main reasons people purchased hand held Gameboys. This got me thinking of how hardware and software interact and why some people are willing to purchase systems for a single solution.
People see a great application and are willing to spend good money on what seems dedicated hardware to be able to use it.
The thing is this influence is not limited to game systems. In the late 80’s early 90’s it seemed if you were connected to the publishing industry the use of a Macintosh computer was a requirement. Even though Windows eventually provided the same or better solution with price points thousands of dollars less you can still see shops that rely on Macs.
The interesting thing about that is the current Mac OS is based on Unix so you would think that there would be a cross platform solution. If you can run BSD on an Intel Box you should definitely be able to run Mac OS on it and there are a few virtual environments that will allow some systems to be built.
You also have game boxes from a handful of manufacturers that should be able to have the games ported to a desktop system and with the addition of a high end video card the experience should be exactly the same but you would still have your primary system for other tasks.
And then we have mobile devices like the iPad or the Gentouch which is going through lawsuits to keep it off the market because it uses android / java and you can guess that friends of Jobs have come to his rescue to kill something that could costs 25% of the price of the iPad just to secure the market.
Now some people would say this is why we need open source software. So the applications can be ported and people will have a choice. The problem with that is hardware developers also need to be pushed into developing solutions that provide the same experience.This is easier said then done and probably the reason that many open source games have not displaced much of the dedicated systems.
I don’t know if there is a solution for this or if forcing one would reduce development but it can be very frustrating for those of us that have neither the money or desk space to buy every new device because there is a great new ap we need to use.
Anyway back to the gameboy and tetras … it seems that after decades not a lot has changed. Even with many of the players in the market moving out on their own or falling to the wayside we are still seeing systems like the Kindle, iPad and XBox offering closed systems dedicated to a handful of tasks.
For some reason it just doesn’t seem reasonable.