Gaming doesn't leap to mind when you think about all of a netbook's various uses, unless you're talking about solitaire or Minesweeper. That's especially because you're dealing with integrated graphics that limit the system ability to display all the visual complexity of current games. But that isn't stopping Intel from joining forces with The Game Creators on a contest to reward the best games developed for netbooks.
Of course, Intel has a vested interest in promoting netbooks, as most of the little laptops are powered by the chip company's Atom processors. And games must be created using DarkBASIC Professional or Dark GDK software -- developed, naturally enough, by The Game Creators. Other technical limitations include a maximum 1,024x600 resolution and a top compressed file size of 250MB.
Judging criteria tends to focus on simplicity (uncluttered interface, easy-to-use controls, relaxed game mode) and social networking (ability to share game scores and achievements and be location aware). First prize for all-around netbook game is a vacation costing up to $5,000, while first prize winners for best graphics, best game play, and best standout element receive $1,000. Ironically, second prize in those latter three categories is an Intel-based netbook.
Gaming history has shown you don't always need bleeding-edge graphics to create great games -- way back in the day, you didn't even need graphics at all. Still, is the buzz for netbook gaming development there, or are the prizes sufficient, in order to coax some exciting titles from this contest? How would they compete with the wildly popular casual games that people already play online? Developers have until October 3 to figure it all out.