Microsoft ships its Kodu Game Lab, which helps kids learn to program in a video game setting. The company also launched the Kodu Cup competition.
has announced the availability of the first full non-beta version of its game-development
tool, Microsoft Kodu Game
Lab for the PC
is available as a free download at http://fuse.microsoft.com/kodu
is Microsoft's game-development tool-which first debuted in 2009, when the beta
was shown at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES)-for children to create and
play their own games on the PC and Xbox.
a programming language, Kodu resembles a video game interface with which children
can drag and drop icons to create their own unique games, worlds, and landscapes,
as well as their own rules and scenarios. Kids as young as five years old have
used it, though the game is actually aimed at children aged nine and up. The
concept of Kodu came from a dad, Matt Maclaurin
, who was
looking for a way to help his own daughter learn the basics of programming.
Research developed it specifically as an educational tool to help develop
children's creativity and logic skills while furthering their interest in
programming and possibly future careers in science, technology, engineering and
math (STEM). As stated in President
Obama's State of the Union address in late January 2011, STEM
skills are increasingly critical to remaining competitive in the work force and
a March 16 blog post, Lili Cheng, general manager of the Future Social
Experiences (FUSE) Labs at Microsoft, which sponsors Kodu, said:
to the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S.
will have more than 2 million job openings in STEM-related
fields by 2014, yet fewer than 15 percent of U.S.
college undergraduates now pursue degrees in science or engineering. Of course,
it's not just about jobs. We need more STEM
graduates to create the next innovations so important to the U.S.' future
Kodu features include:
- A visual user menu that requires no experience to create 2-D or full 3-D
interactive video games.
interactive system that guides users through each step of making a game-creating
terrain, adding characters and programming them.
community feature that enables sharing games with other PC-based Kodu Game Lab
- Visual language that eliminates syntax errors with no cryptic error messages
Microsoft also announced the Kodu Cup, a U.S. game competition for kids from 9
to 17 years old. Contestants are to design their own video game for the PC
using Kodu. Winners will have the chance to win $5,000 for themselves as well
as $5,000 for their school, some great technology, and a trip to the Worldwide
finals of Microsoft's Imagine Cup competition. Games are a great way to engage
students and there is a lot of momentum with educational video games in the
classroom and beyond, Microsoft officials said.
also releasing a classroom kit for teachers to easily implement Kodu into their
curricula," Cheng said. "Hopefully, Kodu can play a role in helping
children learn and encouraging more children to become future video game
designers, engineers or scientists."
March 16, kids can enter the competition. Interested parties can read the
official rules and learn more at http://koducup.us
kids have a natural passion for video games and video game design," said
Michael H. Levine, Ph.D., executive director of the Joan
Ganz Cooney Center
at Sesame Workshop, in a statement. "Microsoft's Kodu Cup is a great way
to harness that passion and apply it in a way that helps improve academic
achievement, skills and interest in the careers of the future, which are going
to fuel our country."
research has shown that Kodu Game Lab appeals equally to girls and boys and
helps promote creativity, self-confidence, critical thinking and technology
skills," Microsoft's Cheng said in a statement. "Kids don't feel like
they're programming so much as playing, even though they're creating
sophisticated worlds, characters and storylines."