Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

3 Video Game Building Tools for Kids

Imagine a world where all knowledge is playable. People dream about changing the world but they lack the skills to get their dream jobs. Getting an education is hard and procrastinating by playing games is much more fun. What if gaming became learning? Primer makes games that teach real skills and lead to real career opportunities. – from Code Hero

 at Technapex shared some valuable resources helping kids making games. It’s definitely worth your reading.


Chris O’Brien of Mercury News believes learning how to make video games in K-12 schools can be a real possibility. His nine-year-old son asked him one day if the two of them could make a game, and in his journey to answer his son’s question, O’Brien learned of a growing network of educators and researchers focused on teaching kids how to make games.

O’Brien discovered Alex Peake, the CEO and founder of Primer Labs, a startup that creates “endless learning games to make knowledge playable.” Peake created Code Hero: The Game That Teaches You To Make Games, which is designed to get non-programmers to get a basic feel for how to break into coding. The game is a cooperative first-person shooter where the player’s weapon is a ray of Javascript code. (there is a student version for primary and secondary schoolers)

As Peake describes it:

“It’s a new type of learning; players start out using powerful code without needing to understand it, then slowly master that code to conquer specific challenges. It’s a game you can play without programming experience where learning happens naturally and the moment when you start coding is the beginning of a new world of possibilities.”

O’Brien’s research also led him to Jonathan Chung, a game designer who wanted to build an engine specifically designed for initiates to game creation.

Let’s define something first for the non-gamers out there: Every video game released today uses what is referred to as an engine. The engine is what powers the game’s graphics, enabling you to view it on an iPad, a computer monitor, a television, etc. Think of a video game’s engine like the words in a book: An author uses words make a story readable and a designer uses an engine to make a game playable.

Chung’s engine is called Stencyl, which allows users to create games using a series of blocks that stack to create various behaviors. O’Brien writes, “I’ve tried Stencyl, and it’s not easy. But there are tutorials and, with a little time, you can grasp the basics. And because it works by dragging around colorful blocks rather than staring at infinite lines of code, it makes Stencyl feel less intimidating.”

While Chung and Peake are making progress developing learning platforms for kids, the undisputed leader is Matthiew Finick’s Roblox, which is software that helps create models of real-world physical interactions. If any of our readers are into gaming, they might remember gaming company Valve’s Source engine which emerged as one of the first game engines to simulate actual physics, enabling the player to manipulate an environment that adheres to rules like weight, buoyancy, elasticity and pretty much any other physical element you can think of. (Such readers may also be interested in viewing an earlier Technapex article on Valve’s educational endeavors.)

Using a point-and-click interface, Roblox users can drag around objects to create their games, or spend their time in the growing community of user-created content. In 2011, there were 5.4 million games created on Roblox.

Video game development may seem like a lofty goal, even for college graduates and working professionals. But there are options for even young kids who are interested in learning more about the field. As games continues to influence how kids learn and how people absorb media, it suddenly looks like there’s no minimum age a kid has to be to start learning how to make one.


Author Bio. : Brent Hannify served as a writing tutor in college and after-school mentor for San Bernardino County and believes technology is a way to improve the state of education in America.


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5 Responses »


  1. Video Game Building Tools for Kids, Really! | Games and education |
  2. 3 Video Game Building Tools for Kids | E-skills4Future |
  3. 3 Video Game Building Tools for Kids | Coding for Kids |
  4. 3 Video Game Building Tools for Kids | Computer Science in Middle and High Schools |
  5. 3 Video Game Building Tools for Kids | Jogos educativos digitais ~ Serious Games |

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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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