Homebrew coders cook up a success for consoles

For years videogame watchers have complained that there is no mainstream channel for independently produced games. Sure, you can hunt down great indie titles online, but until recently, the only way casual users could experience these hidden gems would be through a mainstream publisher picking them up for retail distribution.

Xbox Live Arcade and now the PlayStation 3's E-Distribution Initiative have shifted the industry mindset, with Microsoft and Sony actively courting the indie development scene. Sony has gone one step further with PS3, allowing users to install alternative operating systems to start their own programming projects. At last year's E3 event, Sony's head of the software platform division, Izumi Kawanishi, openly invited bedroom coders to start producing games and other apps for PS3. But this is also happening without their permission. For years there's been a large homebrew development community, a determined band of coders who hack into the firmware of games consoles, to seize control of the silicon and persuade the machine to run their own applications.

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