For parents who don’t want their kids to spend all their time playing video games, it may seem a bit counterproductive that so many kids coding classes focus on building games. However, there are many good reasons that game programming is so attractive as a teaching method. In this post, we lay out the characteristics that make games a great vehicle for kids learning to code.
Gaming is a legitimate area of expertise for many kids. They can design games effectively, drawing on their own experiences. They have great ideas about how to tweak them to make it easier or harder. And they can come up with new ideas easily and with great excitement.
There has to be a hero, an obstacle, and objective and action that drives a game forward. Some games are more explicitly story-based than others, but many concepts of constructing stories are used every time. For kids who don’t like to write stories, they can build similar thinking skills by planning out games.
Starting out with a game that is easy to code also means the game may be very simple to play. But the progressive desire for more challenges in the game draws the kid coding it to explore and learn more techniques and commands.
Kids love to show their games and make other people play them, both friends and adults. They especially like watching you play and knowing how the interactions are supposed to go. This develops sequencing skills, planning, and logic, as well as confidence and pride in their creations.
Kids learn through play and experimentation, and game development is good for both. It keeps kids engaged, including interspersing moments of play when you are testing your game, but also the excitement and anticipation of being able to play it when it’s done.
The visual elements are often the first part of the game, and allow kids to be expressive and creative. Kids who will never call themselves artistically inclined may still spend long stretches working on the exact right character or background. Getting into visual animation applies a layer of logic and spatial reasoning, along with some “anatomical” studies.
Good games always have sounds and messages to communicate with the user. There are opportunities to be creative with sounds, but also to really think about the player’s experience and what they need to know.
These are some of the reasons that we love teaching through game building at Power Up Tech Academy. It provides such a rich assortment of rewards and challenges that the kids stay very motivated when building games. Next time you get a chance, ask a kid to demo his/her game to you, and you will see the excitement and motivation for yourself!
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