Thursday, October 23, 2008

Some Game Making Software and Benefits of Gaming--Updated

While at the Live and Learn conference, I participated in a Round Table Talk titled "Embrace the Passion: Video Gaming," facilitated by the Traaseth family. It was a fun discussion, and led to talking about different things kids had gotten interested in through their gaming. One in particular was creating their own games! Here are some resources that were mentioned:

  • Alice--high school and college ages--"Alice is an innovative 3D programming environment that makes it easy to create an animation for telling a story, playing an interactive game, or a video to share on the web. Alice is a freely available teaching tool designed to be a student's first exposure to object-oriented programming. It allows students to learn fundamental programming concepts in the context of creating animated movies and simple video games. In Alice, 3-D objects (e.g., people, animals, and vehicles) populate a virtual world and students create a program to animate the objects."
  • Storytelling Alice--more for middle school ages--"In contrast to the large number of people who use computers and computer programs in their daily lives, relatively few learn to create their own computer programs. Storytelling Alice is a programming environment designed to motivate a broad spectrum of middle school students (particularly girls) to learn to program computers through creating short 3D animated movies."
  • Game Maker 7.0--"Game Maker - Did you always want to design computer games? But you don't want to spend a lot of time learning how to become a programmer? Then you came to the right place. Game Maker is one of the easiest programs to make your own games or even programs allows you to make exciting computer games without the need to write a single line of code. A very quick and easy way to design your dreams!"
  • Marc Prensky's site was also mentioned, but I don't remember the specific reference--sorry!
  • Kidz Online was another site mentioned. They offer tech training.
  • NEW: Just heard about this RPG creator Hephaestus: "Hephaestus is a freeware computer role-playing game construction kit (often called an "RPG maker"). A map editor is included, and scripting is done in the Java programming language. Hephaestus is written in Java, and therefore runs on every platform. You've wanted to make your own computer role-playing game all your life. Hephaestus 2 makes it easier than ever to make any adventure you can imagine. Use your own art and sounds, or use the standard libraries. Make "static" maps with the map editor, or create your maps entirely with code - even making mazes and dungeons that are different every time you play. There's never been a better time to start writing your own CRPG!"

There have been some recent articles about gaming as well. One at Wired is titled How Videogames Blind Us With Science. A quote:
Videogames are becoming the new hotbed of scientific thinking for kids today.

Another, from 2006, is You Play World of Warcraft? You're Hired! From the article:
In this way, the process of becoming an effective World of Warcraft guild master amounts to a total-immersion course in leadership. A guild is a collection of players who come together to share knowledge, resources, and manpower. To run a large one, a guild master must be adept at many skills: attracting, evaluating, and recruiting new members; creating apprenticeship programs; orchestrating group strategy; and adjudicating disputes.

Finally, a 2003 article, High Score Education. From this one:
After school, kids are devouring new information, concepts, and skills every day, and, like it or not, they're doing it controller in hand, plastered to the TV. The fact is, when kids play videogames they can experience a much more powerful form of learning than when they're in the classroom. Learning isn't about memorizing isolated facts. It's about connecting and manipulating them.

UPDATE: I'm adding links from the comments that people were helpful enough to post about.
  • Scratch from MIT--Tile-based visual programming environment and toolkit, lets kids make games, animated stories, interactive art, and share with others on the Net.
  • KTurtle at KDE Education Project--KTurtle is an educational programming environment for the KDE Desktop. KTurtle aims to make programming as easy and touchable as possible, and therefore can be used to teach kids the basics of math, geometry and... programming.
  • Little Wizard --Little Wizard is a development environment for children. It is intended to be used by primary school children to learn about the main elements of real computer languages. Using only the mouse, children can explore programming concepts such as variables, expressions, loops, conditions, and logical blocks. Every element of the language is represented by an intuitive icon, making it easy to learn. Little Wizard works under Linux and Windows 2000/XP.

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kelli said...

It is so amazing how playing video games has led my kids down various paths of interest.

I just finished an interview with Livescience, and it covered how kids are learning so much from MMORPs. Jill P. was also interviewed. We'll let you know when they put it out.

Silvia said...

That's great! I'll be looking forward to reading the article. :)

gail said...

Silvia, I love your blog! I'd read it before but with the connection at L & L I can just see your smiling face. See you at ARGH?

Silvia said...

Yes! We just reserved a cabin. So excited about it! Glad you enjoy my blog--I'm flattered. :)

Patti said...

MIT has a great free program called Scratch that can be downloaded at It can be used for a wide variety of game- and vdeo- making.

KTurtle and Little Wizard are good, free Linux programs for younger kids, and there are several for older kids and adults. The nice thing about doing Linux programs is that they may end up being picked up by the Linux community and actually used by others!

Love your blog!

Silvia said...

Thanks for the new resources!

Mama Monkey said...

Thank you for this post!