Teaching Kids To Make Games

A teacher writing on a blackboard.

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I subscribe to Steven Johnson‘s premise in his book, Everything Bad Is Good For You, in which he details why videogames and other "bad forms of entertainment" are actually great learning experiences for kids. We have always encouraged our kids to play games and master them. There are limits like anything else in our home, but we certainly do not think that games are bad.

But this year we went one step further. We got our son Josh a young teacher who came over in the evening once a week and taught him how to write code and make a rudimentary computer game. We didn’t know of anywhere in the city to send Josh for this kind of class, so we contacted a local company, Blue Tomato, that provides supplemental tutoring and test preparation. They located an ITP student named Pravin who was fantastic. I mentioned Pravin in this post about the ITP spring show.

So it is with that background that I came upon David Kirkpatrick’s weekly Fast Forward column in Fortune Magazine. David writes about doing a panel at the Games For Change Conference last week. And he says:

But some educators are going a step further, teaching kids to make the
games themselves. It turns out to be perhaps the ultimate form of
liberal arts. In order to create a computer game you have to think
about the content. You have to write a script. The programming involves
logic, math and science. And to understand how you distribute a game
you have to get into issues of marketing, sociology, and Internet
culture.

I sent David’s column to the Director of my kids’ school. I believe in engaged education and I believe in pushing the envelope and trying new things. Things like this.

Our kids are growing up in a different world than we did. We have to teach them using these new tools. Not just the ones that were used on us.

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