David Braben’s tiny PC could revive the age of bedroom coding

Every Train2Game student is bound to be interested in this! A Tiny PC that costs a maximum of £15 has been revealed, and its creators hope the ultra portable computer – with the width of just a 20p coin – can encourage a new generation of game developers.

The Raspberry Pi has been called the spiritual successor to the BBC Micro of the 1980s, the computer that took many bedroom coders to high profile figures in the UK video games industry. Some Train2Game students probably grew up with them too!

The project was announced by Chairman of Frontier Developments David Braben  at the Learning Without Frontiers event (Which Train2Game Course Director Tony Bickley also attended ) and he has spoken to GamesIndustry.biz about it.   He hopes the Raspberry Pi it’ll encourage children to learn more about how computers actually work, and potentially turn them into the game developers of the future:

“A group of us formed a charity here in Cambridge called Raspberry Pi, with a view to creating the spiritual successor of the BBC Micro, to provide a way to motivate people to realise that computer science, maths, STEM subjects actually are not deathly dull – because that is the message a lot of kids seem to have picked up,” said Braben.

He also explained to GamesIndustry.biz what exactly the Raspberry Pi is:

“We’ve come up with a design and made early prototypes of a machine which is really, really small and allows people who don’t have access to a PC at home – which is true of a lot of kids – but do have a TV to have a device where they can browse the web, do email, YouTube, watch video very easily and cheaply.”

The result is a tiny self contained computer which can be directly plugged into the HDMI port and outputs an image of 1080p.  Each Raspberry Pi will also apparently be encased in material that will make it “indestructible”

Braben also told GamesIndustry.biz that the Raspberry Pi will be able to support various types of programming language:

“It can have some very simple scripting language programming – which might even be something like BASIC – so even though it doesn’t satisfy the gamut of all the objective oriented learning and so on, that’s very easy to pick up once you’ve got the general principals of how a computer works, what it does, how it does it”.

And the man behind the classic Elite hopes the Raspberry Pi will provide opportunities for a new generation of bedroom developers.

“It’s really trying to redress the balance a bit so kids coming up now do have at least a chance, and hopefully it’ll be someone like me ranting on in 20, 30 years about how that was a great opportunity for them. You never know!”

This newly announced device is sure to be of much interest to Train2Game students, especially those on the Game Development course.  The projects main aim is to make learning skills that are vital to the games industry both simpler and more enjoyable for kids. Of course, the Train2Game courses also allow adults to do this too, but the Raspberry Pi is sure to be good for the future of the games industry.

The announcement comes after Braben strongly criticised the teaching of ICT in the UK, and before the upcoming Livingstone-Hope review says there’s a growing skills gap in the UK game development industry. The Train2Game blog will be covering the launch of the report.

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on David Braben’s Raspberry Pi? Do you think it will be helpful for the games industry? Would you spend £15 on one and do your own bedroom coding?

As usual, you can leave your thoughts here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum.

[Source: GamesIndustry.biz]

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