Changing the game

by Jason Gilbert

For the last decade, video gaming on the television has been dominated by three machines with names of varying weirdness: the PlayStation, the Xbox and the Wii.

This summer, a new entrant will attempt to upset that trinity -- and, yes, its name is definitely weird enough to join that elite club.

The OUYA (pronounced OO-yah, like "Booyah!") is the result of one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns of all time, raising over $8.5 million in its record-smashing run on the crowdfunding site in 2012. Now, the finished product -- a $99 Android-based gaming console that hooks up to your television and supports up to four controllers -- is set to ship to the tens of thousands of customers who supported the project, dreams of a fresh TV gaming experience created by a company outside the reigning triopoly dancing in their heads.

OUYA will face an uphill battle in its quest to topple the Xboxes and Wiis of the world. An early version of the device has been met with mixed reviews from gaming sites; despite a fundraising campaign that was enormous by Kickstarter standards, OUYA is also likely to struggle to garner the kind of built-in name recognition that Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony have spent decades earning.

So then: why should you give Ouya a go? We recently sat down with Julie Uhrman, the CEO and Founder of OUYA, to discuss how the OUYA compares to the Xbox and Wii U, and what the heck gamers can expect from this curious little box with the strange, short name.

You can watch the interview below.

Oh, and about that name, by the way -- Uhrman explained its origins to Yahoo! News below:

Ouya was created by Yves Behar, he's our creative co-founder, he runs fuseproject, he’s the creator of Jambox and has really helped bring our vision to life both in its industrial design and in the UI. We came to him with a much more boring placeholder name, which wasn’t fitting -- which was Boxer 8 and we realized there were too many companies with the name Box and as great as the number 8 is in so many different cultures it just wasn’t befitting of what we were trying to do.

[...]OUYA is a new kind of game console for the television, right, and our number one mission is to really enable creators. It's to open up the last closed screen that there is, which is the television, and basically tell any creator whether they’re the developer, or the artist, or somebody new that just loves programming, that you can design a game for the television. We’re just removing all of the barriers. So openness is really important not only to how we build our product, to how we think about who our audience is, to how we communicate our product on a daily basis.

So Yves took the idea of openness to heart, and the O in OUYA stands for Openness, the U is for Universal, because it’s built on the Android language, it’s available for everyone, we really removed all the barriers as it relates to creation, and then the YA just sounded good and completed it.


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