I think it’s important to teach children to program computers; as the world becomes increasingly reliant on technology the ability to make that technology do what you want is going to be a useful skill. There are so many ways to teach programming it’s unreal, and this one seems interesting: a board game designed to teach you to think like a programmer.
The game consists of a series of puzzles where the aim is to move an avatar to a portal, picking crystals up along the way. The board itself is a matrix of coloured paths, and you complete the puzzle by selecting a sequence of coloured tokens matching the colours of the paths. If you get to the end of your sequence (or “program”) and you are either not at the portal or crystals still remain on the board, you need to rethink the program and start again.
Later levels of the game introduce conditional loops and branches.
So, will this actually help people learn programming? Well, you won’t be able to play the game a few times and then produce the next big iPhone app, but I do think it’s helpful to get your head round programming concepts and structures. Once you have the mindset in place for how to build a program, the actual task of learning your chosen programming language is a case of learning how to apply those concepts in a particular way.
Isn’t this game a bit geeky?
Yes! Of course! Why do you think I’m writing about it here? The company behind the game, Think Fun, have produced other games you may have heard of or seen in your local toy shops; Rush Hour and Lazer Maze, for example. Their games do have a strong logic and/or geeky theme to them.
Codemaster is a single-player puzzle game aimed at children aged 8 and up. It is available from Amazon.co.uk priced £14.09 at time of writing.