Microsoft's Fuse Labs hopes to encourage kids to move beyond playing games and to start creating games, with a contest for Kodu, a graphic-based game programming software available for PC and Xbox 360.
According to Microsoft's Fuse Labs research team, Kodu is designed to be accessible for children, and its visual system can make it easy for anyone to create a 3D environment and a situation for a character to interact.
The program runs on a PC or the Xbox 360, which allows users to create a program using only a controller.
At a recent tutorial session at the Microsoft Store in Bellevue Square, children created colorful landscapes and created situations where cute characters could interact with apples, trees and clouds.
According to senior programmer Brad Gibson, program manager for Kodu at Fuse Labs, one goal of the program is to encourage young children--Kodu can be accessible for children as young as 5--to become interested in science and technology and perhaps pursue those fields in college.
Children can practice basic programming and problem-solving skills through the game, which can apply to science and technology and computer programming fields.
The program also can give kids the experience of creating something that can be used by other kids.
"All the games that are made here, kids can click 'share' and what it will do is it will 'share' with the Kodu community," he said. "It gives the kids a way to kind of send the games out and other kids can pick it up."
The program has a built-in tutorial, so kids can learn as they use it, he said.
The game design competition is for kids age 9-17. According to the game website, the games will be judged by Microsoft Fuse Labs for creativity, fun, production quality, and clarity of instructions.
Prizes include laptop computers and accessories, Microsoft software, a $5,000 cash prize and a trip to New York City for the grand prize winners. There are also sweepstakes prizes for entering, and a $5,000 cash prize for schools. The deadline to enter is May 10.
The information on the contest is available here:
Time to step up your game! Kodu Cup is here!
It's the competition you've been waiting for. And it's your big chance to demonstrate your imagination, creativity and game design skills to win fabulous cash and prizes.
To enter: Download Kodu at no cost here. Create your new game and once it's ready, submit it in our contest for the chance to win awesome prizes. Check them all out!
To learn more: Just click the tabs below to get all you need to get started. You could even win a Microsoft Office Professional 2010 just for registering – even if you decide not to enter the contest!
For Parents: For information, resources, and expert tips to help you make educated decisions about your children's gaming and entertainment experiences, visit GetGameSmart.com