University of California, San Diego (UCSD) researchers have developed CodeSpells, an immersive, first-person player video game designed to teach students how to program in Java. The researchers tested the game on a group of 40 girls, ages 10 to 12, who had never been exposed to programming before. The researchers found that within just one hour of play, the girls had mastered some of Java’s basic components and were able to use the language to create new ways of playing with the game. “CodeSpells is the only video game that completely immerses programming into the game play,” says UCSD professor William Griswold. The researchers plan to release the game for free and make it available to any educational institution that requests it. The researchers designed the game to keep children engaged while dealing with the difficulties and frustrations of programming. “We’re hoping that they will get as addicted to learning programming as they get addicted to video games,” says UCSD graduate student Stephen Foster. The program is based on research Foster and fellow UCSD graduate student Sarah Esper conducted on what made programmers successful. Their survey of 30 computer scientists identified five keys to learning programming outside of a classroom.
More info: UCSD News (CA) (04/08/13) Ioana Patringenaru