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Education Java Games

'CodeSpells' Video Game Teaches Children Java Programming 245 245

CyberSlugGump writes "Computer scientists at UC San Diego have developed a 3D first-person video game designed to teach young students Java programming. In CodeSpells, a wizard must help a land of gnomes by writing spells in Java. Simple quests teach main Java components such as conditional and loop statements. Research presented March 8 at the 2013 SIGCSE Technical Symposium indicate that a test group of 40 girls aged 10-12 mastered many programming concepts in just one hour of playing."
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'CodeSpells' Video Game Teaches Children Java Programming

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  • Pointers are not complicated, I'm sorry. Mabye for 8 year olds, but that's why they should learn Python. It's actually really easy, it's a very popular language, and it teaches good coding practices as well as jack-off object oriented concepts.

  • by Fluffeh (1273756) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @09:13PM (#43418163)

    The entire game looks pretty basic - and who the heck cares? Watch a two year old and see what happens when you give em a present. They are as likely to play in the big box as with the toy.

    Graphics might be important for the latest 3D shooter, but a good game doesn't HAVE to have cutting edge graphics. A game with amazing graphics can still be crap.

    If the idea is to teach kids how to code, and they enjoy playing the game enough to at least learn a little coding - then it is a GREAT product. If I was ten and wanted to learn java and had a choice of following tutorials/reading books/etc or playing a game that taught me the concepts, then I certainly know how I would have learned java. Sure, all my projectst might also include a random "Save the GNOMES!!" routine, but you know..

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @09:15PM (#43418179)
    Pointers really are complicated for anyone IQ 110 or below. Most people who attempt CS weed out classes are above average, but half struggle with pointers.
  • by RightwingNutjob (1302813) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @09:22PM (#43418225)
    It's still funny today, when Java is slower than C, C++, Fortran, and pretty much any other fully compiled language.
  • by mark-t (151149) <<markt> <at> <lynx.bc.ca>> on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @09:35PM (#43418303) Journal
    I've seen java programs actually run *faster* than native code under certain circumstances. In particular, object allocation with the 'new' keyword in Java is often far faster than dynamic allocation with the 'new' keyword in C++, even when you factor in the costs of garbage collection compared to manually invoking delete in C++.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @09:59PM (#43418453)

    Yeah, you go ahead and explain loops and conditional statements to 40 10-year-olds. They'll learn it in 5, master it in 10, forget all about it in 15. They'll probably be bored, too.

    Or you can use a software like this which will engage them, encourage them, and help them remember it when they go home that night. It sure would be a shame if they were excited to learn more the next day and had a platform that was there to teach them and give you time to grade their math tests.

  • by xero314 (722674) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @10:14PM (#43418557)
    Gee, when you talk to people that never learned programming they know nothing about programming. If you are having trouble explaining it then the problem might not be on their side.
  • by jrumney (197329) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @10:25PM (#43418659) Homepage

    Also, C is easier than Java.

    Perhaps to someone who has been trained in C but not Java. The biggest problems with C when compared against Java is the limited extent of its standard library, sorting through the plethora of poorly documented non-standard libraries that are available (vs Java, where if there isn't a standard for it, then the next obvious stop is apache.org) and the fact that you need to understand the hardware architecture of the system you are developing for in a lot of cases, as well as distinctions between stack and heap and a bunch of low level gotchas in the language that are far from obvious to the newbie, or even to experienced developers sometimes.

  • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Wednesday April 10, 2013 @11:26PM (#43419063)

    The entire game looks pretty basic - and who the heck cares? Watch a two year old and see what happens when you give em a present.

    Polish can be incredibly important. If first impressions are bad, the student may not get hooked, which defeats the entire point of packaging the thing like a game.

  • by qwak23 (1862090) on Thursday April 11, 2013 @03:40AM (#43420187)

    At the elementary level I don't think the choice of language with reference to the business environment is that important. Teaching kids that they can make their computer/tablet/whatever DO STUFF and presenting it in an easy to digest format is much more valuable that what is big in the industry now. Keep in mind, elementary age... at least 20 years (on average) until they start rolling to the job market. Not all of them will be programmers. The languages we use now may be dying by that point. they may not all be programmers, some may be scientists using more focused languages in the vein of Matlab, some may be homemakers, some may be athletes, some may be artists. But they will all have an appreciation for technology and what it can do. They will all get introduced to logic and algorithmic structure at a much earlier age than is normal right now. Those things easily apply to other aspects of life. Hell, if they keep at programming strictly on a hobby basis, they may even catch on to when the developers at their company/organization/whatever are BS'ing them about what can and cannot be accomplished.

Sometimes, too long is too long. - Joe Crowe

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