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Kodu developer thinks we're all geniuses

But medium is "least democratic" of all.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Kodu lead programmer Matt MacLaurin reckons we all have "fifteen minutes of sheer brilliant genius", and that by unlocking game development for the masses our industry will begin its important big next step.

"Well, I'd say games are probably the least democratic medium on the planet today so, rather than being on the cutting-edge of this, our industry is kind of the latecomer to the party," MacLaurin told our girly, pigtails-and-spreadsheets sister site

"If there is one characteristic of our new century, it's the realisation that not only does everyone get fifteen minutes of fame, but that everyone has fifteen minutes of sheer brilliant genius. The internet has given us an efficient engine for harnessing that genius, and a lot of businesses are figuring out their role in this new landscape.

"I think that the games industry is coming out of a phase of being impressed with itself - 'Hey, we're bigger than movies' - and starting to address deeper cultural legitimacy, and the shorthand for that is diversity," he said.

Kodu, an Xbox 360-exclusive, promises an accessible game-creation package where children and adults alike can transform ideas into entertainment quickly and easily. MacLaurin believes this brand new programming language will spark all kinds of unique creations - a variety the industry needs to progress.

"The games industry of the 90s was kind of like having the major movie studios, but not having the independents, television, HBO, PBS, or reality television," said MacLaurin. "Even if you have a big old stack of DVDs, you can't watch blockbusters continuously. Everyone enjoys their documentary, their cheesy low-budget TV sci-fi, their news, their soap opera, their cartoon.

"This is the tip of the iceberg, and the key to making this happen is the democratisation of tools like XNA Game Studio, just like the video camera has remade mainstream media.

"I truly believe that software is the most expressive medium that has ever been created; it is in its embryonic infancy, but in software we have created a mirror of the human mind. To that extent, harnessing code for art is the deepest realisation of that potential - far too valuable to leave to specialists," he added.

MacLaurin acknowledged and praised LittleBigPlanet for its efforts in this area, but said the two titles are "about as similar as pinball and cross-country skiing". LBP, he explained, is a "a super-cool level-editor", whereas Kodu focuses on programming and creating all kinds of experiences.

For now, concluded MacLaurin, those experiences will be limited to the Kodu starting set of around 200 building blocks, as well as some other initial restrictions around launch. "But I can say," he added, "that we have not seen the limit of what you can express with this language."

Kodu is due to appear on the Xbox Live Community Games Channel this spring.

The full interview with Gary MacLaurin - in which he talks about how the game works and what can be created - can be found on

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