Have you hacked a console?


LifeHacker asks the question, Have You Ever Hacked a Game Console?

There are all kinds of good reasons to hack a game console that don’t involve cheating at games, such as adding functionality, creating a media center, or just breathing new life into a beloved old gadget.

For me yes, I certainly have.

  • Playstation 1 (I still have that console under my TV)
  • Xbox 1 (hacked this multiple times and I think its still in my wardrobe, and the reason I found Xbox Media Player (XBMC as came to be known)
  • Nintendo Wii (added the homebrew channel but no longer owned)

The Playstation was a nightmare to hack and in the end I made a few mistakes and had to pay someone to do a proper job. The Xbox was done all by myself once I ordered the Modchip, xecuter v3. Bunny’s book I own and enjoy. I didn’t know that it was made freely available in ebook form after the death of Aaron Schwartz.

No Starch Press and I have decided to release this free ebook version of Hacking the Xbox in honor of Aaron Swartz. As you read this book, I hope that you’ll be reminded of how important freedom is to the hacking community and that you’ll be inclined to support the causes that Aaron believed in.

I agreed to release this book for free in part because Aaron’s treatment by MIT is not unfamiliar to me. In this book, you will find the story of when I was an MIT graduate student, extracting security keys from the original Microsoft Xbox. You’ll also read about the crushing disappointment of receiving a letter from MIT legal repudiating any association with my work, effectively leaving me on my own to face Microsoft.

The difference was that the faculty of my lab, the AI laboratory, were outraged by this treatment. They openly defied MIT legal and vowed to publish my work as an official “AI Lab Memo,” thereby granting me greater negotiating leverage with Microsoft. Microsoft, mindful of the potential backlash from the court of public opinion over suing a legitimate academic researcher, came to a civil understanding with me over the issue.

If you haven’t hacked or modified a games console, you owe it to yourself and others to give it a try.

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.