Zuckerberg on games and programming

In a recent online Q&A, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg talked about playing games as a kid, and growing up to be a computer programmer.

Zuckerberg suggested that a lifetime spent playing video games could prep kids and young adults for careers as programmers.

“I actually think giving people the opportunity to play around with different stuff is one of the best things you can do,” he told the audience.

“I definitely would not have gotten into programming if I hadn’t played games as a kid.”

“Most of the engineers I know, who are the best engineers, are self-taught,” Zuckerberg added at the Q&A. “It’s not because they took some classes.”

[Source: Are video games the gateway to programming?]

Via Slashdot.

Edutainment failed me

Treasure MathStorm“… it felt like being told you had to eat your vegetables before you could have a single bite of weird, unappealing fruitcake.”

— Aroon Karuna

Many people … look back fondly on legitimately-entertaining educational games like Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? and The Oregon Trail. But the Learning Company games my parents bought me were marketed to and designed for parents and educators, not children. Rather than marrying learning to play, they crudely grafted educational material to rudimentary “game”-like behavior.

For children forced to play such games, it felt like being told you had to eat your vegetables before you could have a single bite of weird, unappealing fruitcake. You’d typically have to suffer through some convoluted fractions or a reading comprehension portion before you could be “rewarded” with a small slice of entertainment. The message ended up being that education was supposed to be a slog, not something you’d want to pursue for its own sake.

[Source: BoingBoing]

Design Ah!

Design Ah! is a Japanese children’s educational television program.

In 2011, Japan’s NHK television network began broadcasting Design Ah!, a Peabody award-winning children’s educational program that explores different types of creative thinking for viewers of all ages. With an “Ah” that stands for that Ah! moment, as well as for あ, the first character of the Japanese alphabet, the program is full of minimal, rhythmic, well-crafted short clips that don’t shy away from sophistication.

[Source: The Kids Should See This]


Via Boing Boing: Fun videos teach design concepts to kids.

This may be inspirational for game designers, or fun for their kids, or fun for game designers, or fun for game designers and their kids.

Game Design with Kids: An Interview with Charley Miller

Charley Miller is a game designer and producer based in New York City.

Avi Solomon recently interviewed Miller for Boing Boing:
Charley Miller

Avi: What surprised you the most in your work with the kids?

Charley: Kids are typically naturals when it comes to game design and it’s easy to understand why: they know what’s fun and all they want to do is playtest. But what might surprise adults is to know that most children these days are able to wrap their minds around complex systems. That might be thanks to the amount of gaming kids are able to enjoy these days.

Avi: What is the best place to start learning about game design?

Charley: To be a designer, you have to be a player first. Start by playing a variety of games and try to deconstruct the experiences. Start asking yourself questions about why the designer choose certain elements and thinking about how systems are working together to create the dynamics of the game. That should get anyone nice and confused but hopefully stirred to know more.

Game Design with Kids: An Interview with Charley Miller

Virtual Humans to Teach Emotion Recognition and Programming Logic

This looks interesting — !

Digiplay InitiativecMotion: A New Game Design to Teach Emotion Recognition and Programming Logic to Children using Virtual Humans

Publication Type: Journal Article
Year of Publication: 2009

Finkelstein, S. L.
A. Nickel
L. Harrison
E. A. Suma
T. Barnes

Journal IEEE Virtual Reality 2009, Proceedings


This paper presents the design of the final stage of a new game currently in development, entitled cMotion, which will use virtual humans to teach emotion recognition and programming concepts to children. Having multiple facets, cMotion is designed to teach the intended users how to recognize facial expressions and manipulate an interactive virtual character using a visual drag-and-drop programming interface. By creating a game which contextualizes emotions, we hope to foster learning of both emotions in a cultural context and computer programming concepts in children. The game will be completed in three stages which will each be tested separately: a playable introduction which focuses on social skills and emotion recognition, an interactive interface which focuses on computer programming, and a full game which combines the first two stages into one activity.

Digiplay Initiative

Philip K. Dick: android headHow very Phildickian: machines to teach children how to recognize human emotions. Martian Time-Slip comes to mind, with its teaching simulacra based on historical figures, e.g. the Abe Lincoln sim teaches self-reliance and related moral values. See also Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, where androids — living secretly among us — are more human than real humans. And don’t forget: We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. Then again: We Can Build You. And, inevitably: The Simulacra.

In the gaming field, Valve deserves special recognition for pioneering the memorable virtual humans of Half-Life, Half-Life 2, and subsequent games. From elaborate models and scripted sequences to persuasive non-player AI to facial animation and voice sequencing, Valve has advanced game technology like no other company.

Halflife scientist administers CPR