The Advantages of Letting Kids Hack Their PSPs

When I wrote about the dangers of letting kids install custom firmware on (or, more simply, "hack") their PSPs, I made little mention of the benefits that could also come from the process. A hacked PSP can do a lot of things a normal one can't, some of which are within the law.

If your child is determined to hack his or her PSP, here are some of the fun, legal things one can do with an "unlocked" system.

Run Homebrew

Homebrew software is developed by hobbyists, and as such is available for free. (In fact, it would be illegal to charge anyone for homebrew, since it's not licensed by Sony, so you should never pay for it.)

Homebrew isn't just about free games--it can also expand the capabilities of your PSP, from allowing instant messaging to turning the system into a universal remote control. For some examples of the neatest homebrew on PSP, check out this list by our PSP Guide Niko (includes links to download each of the homebrews). Don't worry--they're safe and easy enough for kids to use without "wrecking" anything.

Please note that installing homebrew may void your PSP's warranty.

Try Foreign Gadgets

There are some peripherals for PSP that aren't natively supported by the North American model. The GPS Receiver for PSP is one peripheral that players can use on a hacked PSP, in conjunction with the right homebrew software.

Play UMD backups on PSPGo

There are ways to make digital backups of your PSP game discs (or UMDs), if you have access to a PSP-1000 or 2000 with custom firmware. Recently, PSP hackers have made it possible to put these backups on the Memory Stick of a PSPGo and play them on that system. This means that games never released in the PlayStation Store, like Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, can now be played on the PSPGo.

Games not available as digital downloads by now are unlikely to ever be made available, so this is a great alternative if you have a PSPGo and want to play these games. However, you should know that downloading or creating a backup of a game you don't actually own is illegal, so only do this for UMDs that you own.

For more information, check out this news piece from Ars Technica.

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