The Arcade Coder, from Tech Will Save Us, is a neat tutorial kit designed to help kids understand what’s under the hood of some basic computer games.
To get started, you’ll need the kit, which contains a light board and USB cable, and an iOS tablet for the app (not compatible with Android at this time). After installing, the app will prompt you to connect the tablet to the light board using Bluetooth, which is pretty seamless.
The user is then prompted for their Tech Will Save Us “Make” account, so parental permission (and an email address) is required to go further within the app. Once that’s done, and the content is installed (which does take a while) there’s a video with some basic information about the computerized light board in the kit. From there users are taken to the Games Studio, where a series of projects help you understand the basics of animation, randomization mechanics, and block-based programming.
The sequence of activities and projects is very intuitive and walks the user through each element of game design and production while providing plenty of playful opportunities for customization and creativity along the way.
Kids should really enjoy working through this kit, either by themselves, with peers, or with parents. We’d find this best for kids 8 and up, due to the reading involved, but younger kids really interested in games would be able to use this kit with a little help.
Jennifer Wells ©2019 Parents’ Choice
For more than 20 years, Jennifer has been developing play experiences for children, with beloved organizations like Highlights and LEGO. With a Master’s degree in Children & Media, a Bachelor’s in Music, and a love of Star Trek, Jennifer has many layers.