Categories : Weekly Blog
Computer science is an ever more critical set of skills that every student needs to learn. The importance of understanding the basics of programming, computers and skills such as touch typing is growing with each generation, and almost no profession is completely independent from computer science. Still, teaching the basics of computer science can, at worst, be excruciatingly tedious for both the teacher and the students.
Read on for examples of great games that make this dense subject a lot more approachable:
Platform: Windows, Linux
To a complete beginner, programming can seem unsurmountably incomprehensible. But what if you were to reduce programming to its very basic elements - algorithms - and add a wonderful UI and entertaining puzzles into the mix? That’s how you get AlgoBot, a coding puzzle game that lets students master algorithms, functions and recursion through trial and error to guide a small robot where it needs to go. AlgoBot is a great introduction to programming for older children, and its later levels challenge even seasoned veterans!
Platform: Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, browsers
Want preschoolers to get into the programming mindset even before they learn to read? With Switch & Glitch, kids learn the basics of algorithms, writing simple code and solving puzzles using a visual programming language. The game has great variety: for example, do students want to make your code as efficient as possible, or collect all the bonus objects? In addition to its single-player campaign, Switch & Glitch comes with a hilarious competitive multiplayer mode, providing students with entertaining mayhem for hours.
Ever played a game and thought to yourself, “Dang, I could do this better?” In Planetoid Pioneers, you finally have an easy way to prove that sentiment. With just a single press of a button, the Crush 2D engine allows you to redesign any surface, any object - even your playing character! Want to fine-tune a specific thing in the game, such as the laws of physics? The engine allows this by letting you alter its code directly. Challenging, educational and, above all, fun!
Love flowcharts and mind maps as exercises? FazGame is essentially these two mediums combined, in a way that allows for complexity and an end product you would never be able to achieve with just pen and paper. FazGame is a tool for making story-driven point-and-click adventure puzzle games, and the students create and share these adventures by using a system that is based on mind maps. Want students to creatively approach a problem and look at it from all angles? Have them create a FazGame!
Platform: Windows, macOS, Linux
One of the most universally prized computer skills is the ability to touch type - that is, to write on a computer keypad without looking at the keys. This critical skill is, unfortunately, mind-numbingly boring to master. Not so any longer: with Epistory, students make their way through a gorgeous storybook world and defend themselves against monsters by typing words fast! To thrive and proceed in the game, you simply must learn touch typing. The stunning graphics and optional challenges are an added bonus.
Want to get students started with writing actual code in the most fun and easiest way possible? CodeMonkey starts you off with a limited number of commands and a visual representation of the finished program. Its intuitive, practical and student-friendly approach means you are never overwhelmed by difficulty. As the number of commands you have mastered increases, the game comes ever closer to being like real coding. Simply one of the best games to get into programming!
But which game is best for me? All of the above games are great options for the right situation, but what is the right situation for you? By and large, your students' age is the most important factor, but there are other considerations. Do you want to emphasize touch typing? Programming?
The choice can be tough. With game-based learning platforms such as our very own TeacherGaming Desk, you don’t need to make that choice: all of the above games (with the exception of CodeMonkey) are freely available for subscribers!