Session 7: Games again: Kodu

Today’s session was once again focused on games based learning and computing. Having spent quite a lot of time exploring Scratch last week I felt confident enough to move on and try something new. After browsing through several of Helen’s suggested links on the class blog my partner and I decided to have a closer look at Kodu. The general principle of Kodu is similar to that of Scratch as it is another visual programming language that allows you to create your very own game without ever having to actually type any code. However instead of using coding blocks you program your game by selecting visual tiles for a condition (WHEN) and an action (DO).

Kodu’s simple layout and cute characters are very child friendly however like Scratch it definitely isn’t as simple as it first seems! My partner and I followed this handy youtube tutorial to create our apple collecting game however Kodu itself has several in built tutorials that allow you to develop a better understanding of the tool and its potential before you begin. Initially we followed the online guidance to the letter however once we had created the basic game we began to experiment with different features and were able to customise it, adding hills and trees, to create something a little bit different. The aim of the game is to use the arrow keys on the keyboard to direct your Kodu (the sprite) to eat all of the apples whilst avoiding the rocks that are scattered about the landscape. There are also several coins dotted about that can be collected to score extra points!

I feel that the main purpose for using kodu within the classroom would be to introduce children to the key concepts of computing however it could definitely also be linked to other curriclum areas. The game we created today was designed to link with a healthy eating theme as you score points by eating encouraging the kudo to eat healthy snacks; however the tool could also provide a brilliant opportunity for creative writing if the children were tasked with designing a magical landscape that they could later use as a story setting within a Literacy session. Kodu could even be used to explore different types of terrain and therefore linked to Geography!

I personally feel that Scratch and Kodu are both great ways of introducing children to the basics of programming whilst also encouraging them to think methodically, however having now explored both I thought it would be helpful to do a round up of the similarities and and differences between the two below!

Similarities

  • both provide a simple, visually attractive intoduction to programming without complex coding syntax
  • both allow you to share your finished game on their website
  • both have in built tutorials however Kodu offer a slightly wider range
  • both are quite complex and would require you to intoduce new controls gradually to avoid overwhelming children
  • Both are free!

Differences

  • Scratch is fundamentally 2D whereas Kodu allows the user to create a 3D world
  • Scratch introduces the user to more complex coding concepts such as loops
  • Kodu games can be played on an Xbox whereas Scratch cannot
  • Scratch games can be embedded into blogs etc whereas Kodu games cannot- unfortunately you have to download Kudo before you can even play the game on their website!

If I really had to pick a favourite I would most probably go for Kodu as I think it is slightly more straightforward; however I encourage you to check them both out and decide for yourself!

 

Bye for now…

 

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