I’ve been hearing a lot of hype recently about what’s known as the Raspberry Pi, but I don’t actually know what the heck one is. So I thought I’d take a closer look:

The Raspberry Pi is a credit card-sized gaming PC, with 256MB of RAM, and connection points for a TV, keyboard, 2x USB and ethernet cable. It has BluRay playback capability, and flows at 700Mhz… but it only weighs 45g. It literally is the size of a credit card. Wow. At £22, the Raspberry Pi is expected to flourish in the game designing world, especially with young, inexperienced designers who just want something easy to work with. It’s said to “inspire a new generation of gamers,” which will be interesting in a few years’ time.

Raspberry Pi’s mission is to get kids coding from a young age, because this will then take on a wider spectrum of industrial skill, such as visual arts, and banking. This little computer also processes spreadsheets and text documents, so doubles up as an academic processor, too. Powered by an SD card, the simple ‘plug-in, plug-out’ power system seems effective enough.

So what does this mean for gaming? Well in the last few years, important university people have been complaining about the lack of youngsters who take an interest in programming and computer science courses, and they blame it on the failure to articulate the importance of core subjects, like science and maths, in the creation of games, from a young age. Nowadays most young students look at maths as the devil reincarnate, yet a lot of them probably go home and switch on the PS3, without knowing that maths helped make it.

“Titles such as Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training have in recent years inadvertently shown the valuable role video games can play in ‘stealth learning’, turning simple sums into an enjoyable activity. When my niece was eight, it was her favourite game because it made her homework easier.”

Johnny Minkley, GamesIndustry International

It’s been compared to the BBC Mirco, which was released 30 years beforehand. Technology writer Glyn Moody described the project in May 2011 as a “potential BBC Micro 2.0”, not by replacing PC compatible machines, but by supplementing them. Although the Raspberry Pi doesn’t actually play games itself, it certainly is a lot easier to transport than a laptop, and looks a lot less clunky when put next to an ordinary desktop combo. The GPU system inside is said to double the performance of the iPhone 4S, which gives some perspective on how powerful this little machine is. Imagine the potential Raspberry Pi could unlock, in a world of transforming technology, always trying to be smaller than the last version.

You can now buy a 3D-printable case to go on your Raspberry Pi, that is, if you can get your hands on one. Demand for these little beauties is way over the supply rate at the moment, and the current batch is on a one-per-customer system, to fairly distribute. Beta versions are already going on ebay for thousands of dollars, because for some people, waiting to pay £35 dollars is just too painful. I expect there will soon be a small army of accessories available to the mass market, once the distribution problems are sorted.

Raspberry Pi model BBefore long, I think there will probably be competitions for kids to create their own coded games, encouraging the interest further yet. Everyone loves a good competition with prizes, and the accessibility of this product will be huge, once stocks improve. I’m actually really excited about this, and once I’m at university, with some spare time on my hands (Hah!), I may just get in line for my own Raspberry Pi, to have a go at gaming. It’ll probably overtake the whole flashdrive problem found in schools, where you try to open up your homework, or a presentation, and the school’s system doesn’t support it? Yeah, try using your own portable presentation just using their screens!

What a fantastic little invention. I wonder what’ll come next, and at the same time, dread to think.


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