Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman, it turns out, really loves television.
You’ve no doubt heard of Ouya, the Kickstarter-funded console project that raised some $8.5 million, and is set to launch this June. You may have also heard of Julie Uhrman, Ouya’s CEO, who talks a pretty interesting talk about embedding Ouya in TVs. At her presentation at D.I.C.E. 2013, titled “Revenge of the TV,” she makes her love of both television and Ouya pretty clear. “We all love television,” she said early in the talk, “but we don’t talk about it because it’s not socially acceptable.” I think this is fair, given how much time we collectively spend watching television as compared to, say, riding a bike, but you’ll rarely see “TV” listed amongst somebody’s hobbies.
Why do we love television, though? What drives this collective admiration? “It sucks you in,” she explained on several occasions throughout the presentation. This core principle is largely what makes television so endearing – you can get lost in it. When you’re watching your favorite show, or playing games on your television, you are fully immersed in the experience. “The best thing to do on a television is play games,” she said, “We are no longer an observer, we are a participant. It’s the great escape.” But she insists that things need to change in the videogame space. Citing hundreds of millions of dollars in the budget for Grand Theft Auto V, Uhrman points out that people are not only unwilling, but entirely unable to make the big bets that lead to some of our favorite games.
So, “How do we stop the bleeding?” she asked, “We put the power back into the hands of the people that make things.” This is just what they’re looking to do at Ouya by making the SDK accessible, they’re looking to empower everybody to make the great games that players want to see. Ultimately, their goal is to create a new experience in games for everybody, from developers to players, and they’ve proven that they have plenty of support, so what’s next? We’ll see come June whether the Ouya takes off in the wider market, and actually has the staying power to deliver a brand new gaming experience, or, as Julie put it, “do for games what cable television did for network television.”