Often seen as a distraction from real life, video games get a bad rap in the minds of parents and educators. Yet the inherent learning mechanisms and skills used in games are gradually shifting that perspective. Drawing out these mechanisms is a main focus for researchers and developers, particularly in response to the 21st century skills our country plans to integrate in every classroom.
“I’m calling for investments in educational technology that will help create… educational software that’s as compelling as the best video game. I want you guys to be stuck on a video game that’s teaching you something other than just blowing something up.” - President Obama, March 2011
Among the many titles and devices released, Microsoft’s Kodu is a prime example of educational technology. Instead of playing games developers put kids in charge of the creation process. Kodu’s visual programming language allows kids to create their own games on a PC or Xbox. The icon-based user interface lets them to jump in right away and begin exploring interactions between game objects and assigned actions. Kodu comes with kits and tutorials for teachers as well, to ensure a smooth transition in the classroom.
Microsoft didn’t stop there. Kids have a chance to show off their creations through the Kodu Challenge, a junior contest of Microsoft’s Imagine Cup. The first round of challenge winners for 2013 ranged from ages 9-18. Check out the worlds they created on Microsoft’s Imagine Cup website.