Computer Games and Creativity

My son is still really enjoying creating things in games. He spent a bunch of time making characters and armor in Scribblenauts Unlimitted and showed me how all the steps of the process worked.

When you design parts, like a helmet, you can then combine them into your larger creations. You can also share your designs with other people online.

He has also been creating characters and games in Little Big Planet 2. He designed 3 different levels for a multiplayer battle game he created. We played together until my thumb gave out, lol.

History of Video Games

My son has been asking questions about early video games lately. We looked up the first game expecting to find “Pong”, but learned instead that it was a computer program written by the military for an open house they held to show the neighboring community something hands-on. It was called “Tennis for Two”.

Later, a programmer at MIT developed “Space Wars” on their mainframe computer and it spread to other universities. Cost of the machines and their weight kept them from being viable as home games for the public. It took a television company willing to risk it to start the home video game revolution.

Last night we watched 2 documentaries on Netflix about early games and the inventions that changed them. Today, my son watched them again.

Pretty cool.

Computer Game Design Course

My son is continuing on with the video game design course we got. He has completed three modules and is ready to move on to the fourth. The course is well designed IMO. Each module has a video portion that explains the topic and a video portion that walks you through specific design choices while you switch back and forth and do the work inside the game design software. There are intermittent quizzes, a code challenge where you need to fix broken code, and a final quiz about the module. This format seems to be a great fit for a 10 year old.

First Non-Scratch Computer Program

My son has been asking about learning more computer programming lately. He wanted something with code that would be different from the “Scratch” and “Little Big Planet” approaches. I settled on a course called Visual C # Express for Kids. I was a little worried that the spelling and writing part of the code might make things difficult, but decided to try anyway. I am so glad I did! Computer programming in a language like this is nothing like the BASIC or Pascal programs I had to write in school; It is mostly drag and drop mixed with editing code and good naming practices. Logic skills and good algorithms are still key, but spelling needn’t have worried me. So far, he has completed the first 3 chapters (out of 10). Yesterday, he wrote his first program for a Windows application!
I am enjoying learning right alongside him. I looked at the code my husband was writing for work last night and actually understood many parts of it. We will see how this all works out moving forward.

Minecraft

My son is teaching my daughter how to play Minecraft. She hasn’t really shown much interest before tonight. Now both kids are thrilled… He is so happy to be showing her how to do things and she is excited to be with him and learning how it all works. So far they made a skin for her character, mined some stuff, built a house, and went over the controls.