It's hard to look low-fi next to the original Game Boy, but Technology Will Save Us has done it. The London startup's DIY Gamer Kit, designed to give kids a technology project they can build with their own hands and then play with, looks a bit like the the classic Nintendo handheld. But the screen is lower resolution--a grid of 64 comically large pixels--and even when assembled, the whole thing looks, well, naked. But that's the whole point--the Arduino-based device gives kids a chance to put together, or take apart, a simplified version of the smartphone or handheld game system they play with all the time.
Once assembled, the DIY Gamer Kit (£50.00, or about $80) can be programmed. It's an Arduino, after all. Wired writes that "TWSU added language that makes it hard for newbies to inadvertently bork the button control or screw up the display screen, a decision that might infuriate open source purists, but also limits the frustration of learners." The kit even comes with two games created by a 15-year-old.
Of course, since the kit comes with an Arduino, there's no stopping ambitious kids from dumping the custom library and turning the DIY Game Boy into something else. On the hardware side, the kit is designed to teach basic soldering, and it also comes with an IR transmitter to link up with other kits and throw down in multiplayer games.
It's not the first kit to give kids a shot at building their own simple game system, but Technology Will Save Us hopes their focus on design and the software experience will set theirs apart. The DIY Gamer Kit definitely nails the look--that familiar Game Boy shape is there, and the orange plastic overlay that covers the circuitry adds a splash of style. The $80 kit is up for pre-order, and the British company plans to start shipping in 2-3 weeks.