XGameStation…

XGameStation after the break…

XGameStation…

We don’t live in the era where people get to live “forever,” the so-called “Singularity” moment hasn’t arrived where age truly becomes ‘just a number.’ Odds are, such an event like downloading your memory and living in a computer or growing a clone so you can implant your memory into them and continue living won’t even be possible for another century or so (before you respond, just remember that flying cars have been predicted for how-many-decades and still a no-show?).

When I’m 100 years old and I look back, I’ll always wonder why the company now-in-name-only Atari never bothered in attempting to innovate like Bushnell’s When-Atari-Really-Was-Atari did. I’m not an executive, I don’t pour over balance sheets like them, I don’t look at the surveys that they take… I’ll never understand. I’m betting I’m missing a huge piece of the puzzle as to why Atari is content in plastering their logo onto games, shipping them off and calling it a day. Once upon a time, Atari meant a lot more then just a logo.

So when I see innovative products like the Pandora (yes, I called it the “OpenPandora” a few posts ago but, from what I understand now, it is just “Pandora”), it makes me cringe that Atari once again has lost another opportunity to innovate and introduce a product that EA, Activision, Take2 or some other software publishing house would never bring forth to the market. Atari has a rich history in video games that not many other companies can leverage.

XGameStation is an innovative little company that has carved out another exciting niche that Atari might have been able to have filled had they been a bit more nimble. Just like Pandora, XGameStation has to do with hardware and video games but this time it’s about building your own video game console rather then delivering on a finished product. XGameStation has several different types of consoles to buy and various options to augment those consoles with, including classic-style Atari joysticks.

To be certain, these build-it-yourself, program-it-yourself consoles aren’t competing against present-day competition such as the Wii, Playstation 3 and the XBox 360 but it doesn’t have to. The XGameStation consoles are purposely a few steps behind but what it lacks in graphics muscle it makes up for in low-cost, edutainment niche that no other major company has. The major console companies strive every year to ensure that you CAN’T modify your video game consoles while the XGameStation consoles are practically inviting you to do just that. How refreshing.

Imagine, for a moment, the Atari X800, the buildable console that’s also a computer, the buildable computer that (naturally) also plays video games. All for $200 dollars. Don’t like the video games and simple utilities that come with it? Write your own. Share them across the Internet with your friends. Get them advertised on the main website. Learn a thing or two about chip design and hardware along the way. Build your own case for the computer.

With each passing year, Atari’s glory days fade from view that much more. Innovative products like the Pandora and XGameStation would at least give the company a fighting chance to credibly maintain at least a little bit of that glory. Apple’s modern rise to prominence wasn’t because of their computers but because they introduced new products that stimulated the marketplace. Admittedly, neither the Pandora or XGameStation will be as popular as the iPod or iPhone but at least it would be a start in a better direction.

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