Teaching Kids How to Code Video Games

For the past few school holidays, I’ve been teaching kids how to code video games.

We have 2 types of “game engines” (yes, in quotations, because it’s by no means an actual game engine), a 2D and a 3D one. The 2D one has block coding options, while the 3D one actually have kids doing line coding using Javascript.

I am quite impressed at the kids, some are really enthusiastic and keen to learn and they do pick up concepts relatively quickly, even though their motor skills still limit the speed of their typing. I am actually quite jealous of them, I wish I had the same opportunities they have when I was their age (as young as 6 years old to 13 years old).

I started out as a teaching assistant and eventually moved on to co-head teacher, helping kids code their whims that aren’t in the lesson plan. Here are some ideas that they came up with and I helped them code:

  • Enemies will chase you within a range and then go back to patrolling when you are out of the range
  • Watch tower that will shoot arrows if you are within range
  • Collect pet eggs, eggs will hatch
  • Pets that will follow you around
  • Aliens that you can ride
  • Collect gems to buy costumes
  • Shoot in random directions (I don’t know why, but this kid thinks it’s a good idea)
  • Shoot enemies
  • Find food for NPCs
  • NPCs will give you gems
  • Kill all enemies to finish level
  • Enemies will flock you
  • Timer
  • Double Jump
  • Golf game (Okay, this one was a bit random, but because the kid is a golfer. Unfortunately, didn’t have enough time to execute this one, because it was 2 teachers vs 19 kids and I leaned towards features that are applicable to more kids’ games)
  • Racing game (again, same reason as above. Also this little kid can’t really sit still)
  • Multiplayer (our “game engine” does not support this)
  • Save Game (again, same reason as above)

Aside from the “game engine” we had the kids use, the only other “game engine” most of them have heard of or tried is Scratch. I think only one kid heard of Unity.

So I’m toying with this idea in my head, if the kids already know how to code in a version of Javascript and some even know how to read API docs (my heart is full), maybe it’s possible to teach them to just use Unity. One: I love Unity (okay, but seriously, the tutorials and resources available online is huge), two: it’s free and cross platform, and three: why not.

Let me make a game with the features listed above, make a lesson plan and tutorial, find a few guinea pigs (I mean, kids) and get back to you.

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