Learning to code is something I never did. It certainly wasn't an option when I was at school in the early 1700s, and attempts to teach myself even HTML tend to succeed as well as my 10 year old attempts to teach myself BASIC. But there seems to be a concerted effort to encourage the current generation of childrenthings to learn this arcane art. Just this week the BBC are launching their new programme of efforts, including TV shows and the Bytesize website, coinciding with the introduction of coding to the British school curriculum.
Which makes it rather good timing for US organisation ThoughtSTEM to launch their Kickstarter for CodeSpells - a third-person action game where your character's magical options are infinite, because you code them yourself.
Beginning as a university project, getting kids in classrooms to want to engage with coding in order to play, the production is evolving into a wider-reaching, more fully-fledged game. Using a colourful, but still seemingly in-depth system of creating code from combined blocks of text, it will let players imagine and create their own magical abilities, and use them to mess around with the world. The Kickstarter, asking for $50,000, is to get this Creative Mode finished, and start building a mulitplayer mode. This will extend the coding ability further, they hope, letting players create their own activities in a shared sandbox world.
As you can see from the pitch video, their ambitions for the project expand beyond that, with hopes for adding living creatures to the game, and presumably other ideas that coding players will want to see made possible.
They aim to get an alpha version of the project out to backers by December this year, which will presumably resemble the version taken into schools, with a beta starting in June 2015. However, you'll need to back for a minimum of $30 to get into the beta, while a copy of the released game comes at $15.
It's by no means the first game to try to encouraging coding through play, but with an academic background and a decent amount of ambition, it'll be interesting to see where this one heads.