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Programming for kids - what to start with?

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Hey! My little nephew is 12 and he wants to start game programming. So I bought him a book called "C++ Programming for Kids". But after thinking about it for a while, I don't think it was a good idea. You learn things like opening message boxes under windows, but not real "programming" like defining your variables and doing stuff with them. It's more like memorizing windows commands. I've heard of DarkBasic. Do you think this would be a good idea? Do you know - by any chance - if there's a German version of it? Do you know good books about it? What's your opinion? What should kids learn first if they want to do their own games?

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C++ can be a bit boring to start with. So it can be a good idea to start with somethig like DarkBasic or gamemaker at the same time as learning c++. Then he can learn programming and at the same time learn how to build a game.

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This sounds familiar. Personally I started with basic at the age of 12. I also used one of those enhanced basic versions which allowed you to do all sorts of graphic stuff without too much trouble.

In retrospective I believe starting out with basic isn't all that great. Without proper guidance, basic can make you learn very bad styles of programming ("top-down programming"). When I was in that age, I had a lot of patience and eagerness to learn. Neverthless I did not learn anything close to proper programming until I had switched to C. However, C is also not an ideal language to start with, due to the steep learning curve and the relentless memory/address errors. In C or C++, you have a lot to learn until you are able to "do graphics" properly.

If I had a son in that age today, I would probably advise him to learn something like java or C#. Those languages are - in my opinion - easier to learn, programming graphics is "fairly" simple, and the runtimes are much more friendly in regard to errors. On top of that these languages feature a C-like syntax (which is used in so many ways today), and they encourage good programming styles and OO concepts.

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Quote:
Original post by beefsteak
If I had a son in that age today, I would probably advise him to learn something like java or C#. Those languages are - in my opinion - easier to learn, programming graphics is "fairly" simple, and the runtimes are much more friendly in regard to errors.


Or even VB.NET these days is pretty powerful and can be used with OpenGL (TAO) or Managed DirectX.

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ever played zzt? i dont know if its still going but that was a great little programing game. http://www.autofish.net/zzt/zutil.html seems to have some downloads but there used to be loads of pages with maps and things so there probably still around somewhere.

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at that age, any BASIC variant. especially blitzbasic or darkbasic, seeing that those are geared towards graphics/game programming.

if you are a programmer yourself, then you'll be able to keep him from learning too many bad programming habits.

once he gets to High School though, you may want to put him on a High Level Language such as C++, Java, C#, or XML [grin]

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Quote:
Original post by Zahlman
from advocacy import advocate_Python

Petewood: Good idea, the kid can learn Python and German at the same time! :D

Umm... seeing as Lutz's from line is listed as "Bremen, Germany" and he specifically request German verions, I think it's somewhat likely that the nephew already might speak some German.

In any case, you might want to consider Logo. Once nice thing is that you get immediate visual feedback on almost everything which often helps in the learning process. Then once he's familiar with programming in general, move to more advanced languages.

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