When you were little, you probably dreamed of being an Astronaut, a Firefighter, or maybe a famous Hollywood Actress. Our children have exactly the same dreams, even if these professions have diversified a bit. Apart from astronauts, our children want to build robots, they want to program apps, create their own web pages and develop video games without having to wait for college.
In this post, we will focus specifically on video games development and video games as an educational and even therapeutic hobby for children.
We will explain to you why your children love to spend hours and hours with their tablet or console and what things you can do, in order to avoid repressing that hobby, your children get the most out of their favorite activity. Let’s get started!
What are video games?
A video game is a software, just like any other. What differentiates them from other computer programs is that it is also a piece of audiovisual and interactive content. Young and adults enjoy this activity to the point that they make it their lifestyle. Regardless of whether we are talking about action, sports, strategy or simulator games, all video games have one goal in common: to entertain.
Unlike other entertainment media such as television or movies, the interactivity in video games is an important factor, not only for their popularity, but also for the hundreds of applications they have other than mere entertainment. Other notable elements are the worlds recreated in video games, where the only limit is the creator’s imagination.
One of the most interesting and important uses of the video game is teaching. If we take the points discussed in the previous paragraph (interactivity and recreation of virtual worlds), it is possible for a 10-year-old boy to learn Newton’s laws in video games like Minecraft without even noticing that he was taking a physics class. That is the magic of video games.
Brief history of video games
The first video game was created in the 60’s, developed in an American university. Since then, more and more computer students were interested in developing these interesting interactive programs. A decade later, the first successful video game would hit the “market”: Pong. The goal was very simple, to play ping pong on the screen.
These games, that were brand new back then and didn’t have many practical uses beyond simple curiosity, unleashed a wave of enthusiastic programmers who wanted to make their own interactive program. At that time, there was no specific subject in universities for “game development”, so this generation of developers worked extremely hard. The first big video game companies were born in the 80’s: Atari, Nintendo, SEGA.
From that point on, the growth of the industry was exponential. Not only there were more and more people creating video games, but also more and more consumers who were desperate for increasingly complex, colorful, three-dimensional, infinite games; a new paradigm was created in the software development job market: now programmers wanted to… create video games!
In universities around the world, academic programs have been created to train video game developers, mainly in Europe and the United States. Some other Latin American universities have also started to implement these programs. But with more and more people of all ages interested in video games, it was inevitable that kids would also be curious about how they managed to create the worlds in which they spent so many hours on a Saturday afternoon.
Today there are some enthusiastic video game content creators who teach what they know through platforms like YouTube. But this content is not necessarily for 6-15 year olds. Because of this, at Wonderly, we have decided to launch our new video game development program for children and it will be announced in greater detail very soon.
Benefits of video games for children
Your children most likely love video games and they probably would love to create their own video games. But what are the advantages of playing and creating video games?
Benefits of playing video games:
• Encourage cognitive development
• Improve spatial ability
• Develop the ability to solve complex problems
• Improve reflexes. Mental acuity
• Relieve stress
• In certain instances, they improve psychosocial abilities
• Facilitate the learning of new concepts (for example, new languages)
• In games like “Just dance” or “Wii Sports”, they improve motor skills.
• Boost creativity
• There are therapeutic uses to promote mental health in adolescents and even to treat pain in patients -children- with various conditions.
• They are super fun!
Benefits of learning to create video games:
• Improve logical-mathematical skills
• Depending on the area that interests your children the most, they could boost their artistic vein
• Promotes teamwork and camaraderie
• Develop abstract thinking
• Several of the benefits of playing with video games are related to mental development as well, given the entertaining nature of the process of creating a video game, such as:
- Problem resolution
- Spatial ability
- Logical-mathematical ability
- Cognitive development
While it is true that excessive consumption of video games is, like any other addiction, negative, the reality is that with discipline and a reward system based on responsibility, it is more than enough for our children to have a healthy relationship with this and any other means of entertainment.
It is also important to consider what type of games our children are playing. Just like with movies or series, video games have a recommended age rating system. So, whenever you buy or download a game for your children, be sure to check it to see if it suits their age and tastes.
The same thing happens with learning video game development. Although there are some courses or video tutorials to achieve this, most are focused on a more adult audience, so it is essential to do some research to find courses that adapt the pedagogy for kids. Did we mention that our game development course is coming out soon?
How is a video game developed?
A video game, considering it is a software, is developed following the same rules that a programmer would use to create an app for your bank. There is an important work of code and programming languages that are used to create the set of elements that make up the world and the logic of the game in question. Things like the physics or the size of the characters come from a code line.
The big difference between the development of “normal” software and a video game is that, for the latter, there are also audiovisual elements: the objects present within the world, the colors, the shape of the characters, the sounds, the voices and even the narrative.
Developing a video game is a daunting task that requires a lot of teamwork and years of practice. However, you don’t have to create a game from scratch to be a full-fledged developer. In fact, in most cases, you start by modifying existing video games: creating new rules for your world, adding characters or changing the color of the sky, among many other examples.
In our game development course for children, they are introduced to the mods world, right after completing the Scratch programming course. The professors will teach them how to modify what is probably one of your favorite games: Minecraft.
Can a child develop a video game?
If a child can learn to program, they can definitely create video games on their own. Sure, it is not an easy task and it requires interest, motivation and education before achieving it.
To determine the level of interest of our children in learning to develop video games, ask them first. If they are not so talkative, perhaps telling them that there are children creating the games they love so much can help to clear this topic.
As for the motivation, it will be the consequence of their interest. If your children are interested in this field, they will be more than willing to give this world a try. If the interest is more yours than theirs, convince them to attend your first class with them, without pressure or expectations.
And regarding education, it is essential that you can find experts in the field with didactic capacity and experience in primary or secondary education so that they can adapt the very complex underlying issues of video game development, to an everyday language that is easy to understand for your kids and teenagers. Have you check our teaching staff yet?
Some real examples of children creating video games
- Antonio Garcia Vicente, Spain
This boy learned to develop video games in Scratch and he has created more than 100 titles so far. He has a bright future ahead of him, either working in a big video game company or starting his own studio. He is only 14 years old!
- Basil Okpara, Nigeria
Basil’s curious story begins with his parents who were angry because he spent hours and hours playing with his tablet. His father, frustrated that his 7-year-old boy did nothing but play Candy Crush, asked him to create his own game. Basil took this very literally and, with Scratch in hand, he started developing his own video games. Today he is 12 years old and has already participated in several development camps, just like Antonio.
- Sam Smith, England
Sam’s parents introduced him to the Game Maker tool. Since his father is a Programmer, the teaching and learning process was much easier. Besides, he is a natural and, consequently, he has created an official video game for Android and iOS by himself with only 12 years old. Sam is now 20 years old and on his way to being one of the UK’s top creators. Check out his story here.
Your children can be part of the next story we share on our blog, so stay connected with us through our social networks to be among the first to sign up for the future game development course for children.
Video games are not only fun, but also very powerful educational and therapeutic tools that do not mean “just playing”. With proper guidance (a good instructor, a good tutorial, and a programming interface), kids can easily create their own video games.
In addition, video games, as a software, share the same educational benefits for children as learning programming (link to programming course), emphasizing cognitive development, teamwork and abstract thinking, much-needed skills for the modern world.
Go ahead and discover more about this exciting world and stay connected with us to be among the first to enroll your kids in our future video game development course for children.