Minecraft-obsessed gamers have a new way of showing off their love for its blocky landscapes, the Gameband. Mojang, the game's developer, has licensed its first wearable device – a wristband that lets players take their worlds wherever they go.
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The Gameband is aimed specifically at kids. Its black silicone housing contains 8GB of storage, cloud backup capabilities and a 140-LED digital display that can be extensively customised to show whatever you want. The clasp is made of stainless steel and carries a design that evokes the game's redstone ore.
Here's how it works. Out of the box, you plug it into your computer's USB port and run a quick setup wizard that configures the backup system. Then it's just a simple matter of launching the Minecraft game files contained on the wristband's internal storage and logging into your Mojang account to play. After you exit, a window pops up automatically and the cloud backup is completed. Windows, OS X and Linux are all supported.
Wearables are cool for kids
The Gameband was created by Barcelona-based Now Computing. The firm has built USB devices with kids in mind before, but this is its first wearable device.
"We wanted to make our product comfortable and easy to use," explained Now Computing's Maye Mac-Swiney, when asked why the company chose to move into the increasingly-crowded wearables market.
"It would have been way easier, engineering-wise, to do something more normal, but we wanted to make it cool, appealing and something that would add more value to our customers."
Users can also customise what appears on the wristband's LED display. You can show the time and date, the amount of storage space on the device, and you can even scroll text messages or animations across its screen.
A bit of specialised software called Pixel Furnace lets users upload their own images to use. Importantly, for a product aimed at kids, it's fully splashproof - and if the worst happens and it goes missing then the company promises to ship a discounted replacement within 24 hours with the data from the last backup preloaded.
The team built a prototype and sold it at Minecraft fan convention Minecon in 2013, but the final version is considerably improved over its forebear. "We learned a lot," said Mac-Swiney. "We learned confidence, how to market the product and how to improve it. For example, a simpler opening and closing mechanism, and a black frame that made the LED display look better."
As well as Minecraft itself, the Gameband team has compiled a selection of extra bonus material for fans of the game. "We have preloaded maps and mini-games from Minecraft superstars like Hypixel, SethBling and Dragnoz," said Mac-Swiney. "It's no secret that hundreds of thousands of Minecrafters love to play on servers or maps. And yet, some gamers don't know how to download them or don’t even know all the maps that are out there."
The price is a little on the steep side at $79.99, and that doesn't include the cost of a Minecraft license if you don't already have one. But for obsessed Minecraft enthusiasts, the ability to carry their creations around with them to show off at a moment's notice will no doubt be worth it.
More Gamebands are planned for other titles, but Mac-Swiney wouldn't be drawn on specifics. "We're working now on three more editions which we can hopefully release in the first or second quarter of 2015," she said.
To get a Minecraft Gameband for yourself, head over to gameband.com.