After Gamebuino, a small retro-styled console, in which you were able to create your own video games through Arduino software without any programming skill whatsoever, was released, no one expected something that could surpass this idea.
The possibility of creating your own 8-bit games in a real gaming console was attractive and daring enough for those who were seeking an opportunity to get into the video game development industry. Or at least use it as a retro training ground.
Creating video games from scratch on a real console was an interesting idea on its own, but Gamebuino was not the first homemade console available to the public with a such an approach, but it’s an indicator that gamers are becoming less dependent on big brands. Or they just love to tinker around.
MAKERbuino tries to take all this tinkering DIY spirit one step further.
…but what makes MAKERbuino different?
MAKERbuino is Albert Gajšak’s own take on Gamebuino’s core concept, albeit taken to a whole new level. Whereas Gamebuino’s hackable features allowed you to program and create your own retro-styled games on the already made console, MAKERbuino lets you design your games and build the console itself.
Thus, your own creativity becomes the ultimate protagonist in this process—not only as a programmer but also as a designer and engineer of your own portable GameBoy-like device—and learning becomes, as clichéd as it may sound, part of the experience itself. And on top of all that it’s ultimately cool and great fun.
According to their official Kickstarter project page, Gajšak himself was inspired by Gamebuino and decided to contact its developers for collaboration, so it’s no mystery that both his and their products are quite similar.
Just like the Gamebuino, the MAKERbuino leverages on the Arduino open source systems, one of the most popular DIY microcontroller platforms, and it’s hackable by nature.
As of now, it is 100% compatible with the game library that Gamebuino already offers with each purchase, and it comes with multiplayer features. However, and unlike Gamebuino, MAKERbuino comes with a kit including all the parts you need to build your own console. Its main feature, though, is to learn through hardware exploration, whereas Gamebuino’s is to learn through programming.
Unhindered of its 2 kb Ram capacity, Gajšak puts emphasis on the educational nature of constructing your own MAKERbuino. It’s a playful way to introduce kids to STEM learning disciplines as well. Indeed, building your own device sounds like a complicated process, yet Gajšak insists this is not the case.
Aside from a guide on its official site, MAKERbuino’s size and simplicity compensates the lack of experience any builder may have. Because of this, children over 11 years old can start with this project as long as they’re under adult supervision. And people with no idea whatsoever about technology and programming can find help and support within the Gambuino community too.
Availability and price
Gajšak’s Kickstarter campaign has now ended already, and the MAKERbuino can be purchased through their web shop. The standard kit costs about a little less than $40 and will be available starting July 2017.
There are several available packs, such as the MAKERbuino educational pack and the MAKERbuino assembled pack (for the ones who simply prefer to have an already built console), which answer to several costumers’ needs. I would recommend this project highly to both teachers and parents alike, considering that the focus of MAKERbuino is to approach technology to inexperienced persons with a keen interest towards video games.
Children, in particular, will gladly enjoy to construct something by themselves and make it their own. The way they want it to be. As I said, individual creativity steals the spotlight on this project and promises the best training ground for those who seek a place inside the video game industry.
Perhaps this is, indeed, MAKERbuino’s biggest achievement overall. But if you’re no child, no teacher, and no parent, you can still have a lot of fun with the MAKERbuino. For more information, please visit MAKERbuino.
YouTube: MAKERbuino: Build Your Very Own Portable Gaming Console
Photo credit: MAKERbuino