The Null Device


Walking along Regent St. (a block or two south of the AppleTemple), I noticed that a shop had opened for the sole purpose of demonstrating and selling the Gizmondo game units. These are handhelds, looking sort of like the ill-fated Nokia N-Gage. They're developed by a British company, cost about £220, run some form of Windows CE, have a handful of games available, and also include a digital camera (of unknown quality), GPRS mobile phone functions and a GPS receiver (which one game, a gang-warfare simulator, is said to use; which could be either nifty or daft). There's a version available for £100 less, which requires the user to view an ad a day to keep using it; the era of attention rights management could be beginning.

They had a few units attached to the wall for people to play with. I started a game on the unit, and was presented with a metal sphere moving along a road of coloured tiles heading into the distance. This looks familiar, I thought. Then I realised that it's a remake of the old Commodore 64 game Trailblazer, right down to having a late-90s-rave-techno version of the tuneless in-game music.

I suspect that the price of Gizmondos will come down dramatically after the PlayStation Portable comes out; after all, the PSP is about the same price and has a much larger screen and more titles.

Also: given that it's a WinCE machine that uses standard SD cards for storage, I wonder how hackable it is. Most game consoles are designed to prohibit the use of unauthorised software, because the business models are based on the manufacturer collecting royalties on each game sold, and the consoles being often sold at a loss (for example, Microsoft lost money on each X-Box sold, and only profited if the user bought about two or more games for it; which undoubtedly made it all the more satisfying for penguinheads to buy X-Boxes and convert them into improvised Linux machines just to stick it to Darth Gates). Presumably the Gizmondo would be a similar case, and would have some sort of cryptographic measures to prevent users from running unauthorised code on it. Though if the Gizmondo could be hacked, it could be an interesting platform; perhaps once the PSP stomps the price down, it'll be worth picking one up.

There are 1 comments on "Gizmondo":

Posted by: steff Mon Apr 25 22:58:51 2005

Attention rights management, that's a brilliant scary shit idea. soon to become another type of branding: psyche-branding. for so many units of time per day the subject has to think of (the benefits) of a product with which the subject has a 'contract'.