Water Cooler Games served as the web's primary forum for "videogames with an agenda" — coverage of the uses of video games in advertising, politics, education, and other everyday activities, outside the sphere of entertainment.
The site was maintained at watercoolergames.org from 2003-2009, where it was edited by myself and Gonzalo Frasca. It is now archived here in full.
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Hacking the Leapster, plus Squeak and procedural literacy
First, and most interesting to me, the device apparently runs on Macromedia Flash. I don't know why I found this surprising, but I did. Flash is becoming more and more popular in embedded devices in general.
Second, and sadly, when Dave Bauer over at the Design Experience asked about 3rd party development, LeapFrog sent a quick NO in reply, explaining that all development is done in-house. Personally, I think this is foolish, but I'm sure LeapFrog is deadly neurotic about controlling the content on their devices.
Still, I'd challenge someone out there to figure out a way to hack the device and install new modules on it. It can't be that hard. I imagine there are some proprietary container calls that would be hard to identify, but not impossible. Let us know if you have any information.
Third, Dave makes the interesting point that Squeak would provide a good platform for a kids handheld device. For those of you unfamiliar with Squeak, it's a scriptable media authoring tool for kids, with some big names in children's software behind it. What's interesting about this idea is that the device could serve as both a general learning tool (maybe) and a tool for teaching procedural literacy. I'm not sure how practical such a device would be as a commercial product, but it's an interesting idea to bat around.