How to Play the Puzzle Game That Teaches Kids to Code

A solar storm hits Fabrique – the world where you and I live. Because of the catastrophe, all the machines in the world have stopped working. This makes all the citizens of Fabrique suffer due to the cold and the dark. Nothing is working anymore and nobody knows what to do. What the world needs is a machinist who will repair the machines by fixing their programs or codes. The world needs a hero, and that hero may be YOU!

Be the machinist, use various code languages and find the perfect sequences to make orbs fly, gears rotate and machines light up to save the city. In the end, you get to save the world, and learn valuable lessons.

This sounds like something that is taken straight out of a gaming app that’s the stuff of the teens and twenty-somethings in skinny jeans whose eyes are glued to triple screens while guzzling energy drinks. But no. This game, the Machinist-Fabrique, is developed for kids ages 10 and up to provide entertainment as regular games do and at the same time teaches them how to code.puzzle game that teaches kids to code

This coding game for kids is a very good way to entice children to learn to program. Between a textbook and a puzzle gaming app, children and even adults, would naturally gravitate towards using the apps instead of reading a text book. Without even consciously knowing it, children are introduced and made to practice the basic steps in programming via short, challenging and entertaining puzzles. This solves the problem of how to encourage children to learn without ever telling them to stop playing. This also develops patience and good learning habits.

A free game trial version is available for download, and this should be your first step towards learning how to code. The game is easy to play and a number of tutorials are available on YouTube and the site that is dedicated to encouraging the whole population to learn how to code early in life. Parents and/or teachers may watch the videos together with the children and discuss how puzzles will be solved.

The Machinist-Fabrique has a purely graphical platform that appeals to the young. It is so easy to understand since there are no syntax barriers or techie jargon. Kids just need to put programming pieces together to make the machines work. This method is an excellent way to learn to code for kids.

Learning to code can also be helpful in many domains of learning as it programs the brain to function logically. So even if in the future, these kids do not land a career in the technology and computer niche, they have brains that are wired to process, test and find bottlenecks that can be useful in all other career applications.

I decided to particpiate in Ludum Dare 30 – a 48 hour game creation competition. This post is for my entry, The Two Sides of the Rio Grande.

The Two Sides of the Rio Grande is a Sim City like game that takes place on the border of Juáres and El Paso.

Try the game

Try the game for windows!

Screen shots


Startup Screen
Startup Screen


If you want the source – I mean really want the source (it’s 50MB), you can download it here: Source.

It uses

  • Visual Studio 2013
  • MonoGame
  • Behaviour Trees for the AI
  • Open Steer for the movement

Why Your Child Will Benefit From Learning To Code

There are a multitude of reasons why your child will benefit from learning to code and this blog will cover the top five that can change the outcome of your child’s future.  That is not a statement to be thrown around lightly but one that comes from a growing stack of evidence.  You would have to be born yesterday not to know the impact that computers have had on society throughout the globe.  Remember it was only twenty years ago that the internet was beginning to be used by what is commanly known as “first adapters”.  In the early days computers were relatively simple items when compared to the standards of today.  The most common functions were word processing and simple gaming.

Fast forward to today and one can clearly see that the tentacles of computing and the programming/coding that run the show reaches into almost all facets of everyday life.  From appliances, cars, infrastructure, mobile devices and the old standard computer live as we know is with the backbone infrastructure provided by this now massive industry.  Why is this important to kids and parents today?  Here are the top five reasons.

1.  Fun – Whether or not your child grows up to be the next Zuckerberg, programming is a highly useful skill for him or her to learn. It teaches vital problem-solving, creativity, and communication skills. Plus, it can be downright fun for you both.  A leading parent expert talks about setting specific goals when you set out on this adventure, such as “I want my child to be so excited that she explores things on her own after we’re done.” For us, learning to code isn’t the end result, but making something (through trial and error and learning basic skills in the process) is.learn to code

2. Improved Education –  There is a growing consensus that the way children in schools are being taught information technology is in need of a radical overhaul.  Starting in primary school, children from all backgrounds and every part of the first world should have the opportunity to: learn some of the key ideas of computer science; understand computational thinking; learn to code; and have the opportunity to progress to the next level of excellence in these activities.  Douglas Rushkoff, author of Program or Be Programmed, is one of the nation’s leading digital crusaders. He argues that our schools need to incorporate computer programming into the core curriculum or get left behind. “It’s time first world school systems begin treating computer code the way we do the alphabet or arithmetic,” he writes.

3.  Career Path – Kids need to know about: algorithms (the mathematical recipes that make up programs); cryptography (how confidential information is protected on the net); machine intelligence (how services such as YouTube, NetFlix, Google and Amazon predict your preferences); computational biology (how the genetic code works); search (how we find needles in a billion haystacks); recursion (a method where the solution to a problem depends on solutions to smaller instances of the same problem); and heuristics (experience-based techniques for problem-solving, learning, and discovery).  There is such a dearth of skilled programmers in the U.S. that firms like Google and Facebook buy entire companies simply to gain access to their code-literate employees. “If you know how to code, you can likely get a high-paying job right now,” writes an industry insider. “You will be enabling America to compete effectively on both the economic and military frontiers, where we are rapidly losing our competitive advantage due to our failure to teach ourselves code.”

4.  Quality of Life as an Adult – The biggest justification for change is not economic but moral. It is that if we don’t act now we will be short-changing our children. They live in a world that is shaped by physics, chemistry, biology and history, and so we – rightly – want them to understand these things. But their world will be also shaped and configured by networked computing and if they don’t have a deeper understanding of this stuff then they will effectively be intellectually crippled. They will grow up as passive consumers of closed devices and services, leading lives that are increasingly circumscribed by technologies created by elites working for huge corporations such as Google, Facebook and the like. We will, in effect, be breeding generations of hamsters for the glittering wheels of cages built by Mark Zuckerberg and his kind.

5.  Making the World a Better Place – If these concepts seem arcane to most readers, it’s because we live in a culture that has systematically blindsided them to such ideas for generations.  Having an entire generation that is knowledgeable about coding and has learned the skill set to accomplish many great things leaves the world a much better place to be and live.  Computers tie together the entire planet.  Lets do what it takes to reform learning and make a mark on a new generation.

With this kind of impact available literally at our fingertips to shape the future of our children, the next generation and the world – what are we waiting for?

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