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Gregory Thacker

Where to start? Game programming for 10 year old.

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Hey everyone. I have a 10 year old daughter who is very intelligence and talented artistically. She has also expressed interest programming. My wife and I really want to foster these interests but neither of us have any experience with programming or coding. Can anyone recommend and good program or product that could help guide her in this? She has a pretty good laptop. We also have a Mac laptop she can use although I’m guessing Apple product might not be the best for this. Here is something I found that appears to help get a kid started with Minecraft modding (she loves minecraft). 

https://www.educents.com/mod-creations-portals-and-dimensions.html?utm_source=google&utm_medium=pla&utm_campaign=867693044&utm_content=46534357387-m-328486612966&utm_term=52257-pla_with_promotion&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI9rmfsJrX1wIVhrbACh26EgZ9EAQYAiABEgKV5vD_BwE

Would this be a good start or is there something else out there that’s better? Thanks in advance for your help. 

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+1 for Scratch, it's perfect starting place. I wish they improved the user experience a bit, since it became slightly dated now. But don't think there is anything so visual and so easy to grasp. This is some game I created with my (4 year old back then) kid when he was at home sick & bored, in under one hour: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/116277609/

He's almost 6 now and loves Scratch even more, can now read the instructions and create programs as far as using loop inside a loop and switching context. We use Scratch-like product that has cardboard blocks for application designing and then iPad or such device to scan the code and display results of a game actions that you programmed. It's called Scottie! Go but I'm not sure it's available in other countries, as it seems to be Polish product. Here is the page https://scottiego.pl/en/. It's also intuitive enough and probably created also for parents with no prior programming experience.

This is how it looks (you have some tasks in a top-down platform game, and you control a robot, and later other characters, to accomplish some tasks through the program that you create)

IMG_0027.thumb.JPG.f99d3e1c309d1cf5b4d0e014a95b0160.JPG

Modding is also good idea, but it requires some prior programming experience (just setting the development environment may be daunting task), so a better place to start would be playing with Scratch, learning basic programming concepts, and after some practice trying modding.

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I also recommend Javascript for beginners nowadays. Not because it's a great language (it's not good, but not too bad either) but the fact that it's available in your browsers. Thanks to HTML DOM, you get rendering engine basically for free.

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For such a young mind, I would recommend Python or Javascript.  I've not used Scratch before, but from what I've seen it looks a safe choice.

I throw Python into the mix because its most likely to be supported by schools, and will be a useful language for when they become an adult.  From a parent's point of view, you can easily find a good book written with children in mind - walk into a news agents and you'll probably find a "get started in computing with python" magazine book.

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3 hours ago, Anri said:

For such a young mind, I would recommend Python or Javascript. 

I've seen some Python kids programming books in the stores. Thinking of buying them for the kids.

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For learning Programming, I would suggest the book Head First Programming. Very beginner friendly, and contains great interactive examples. You can check it out here: http://www.headfirstlabs.com/books/hfprog/

Head First Programming would start out by teaching Python, without assuming any programming knowledge. Having learned to program by a Head First book myself, I can confidently tell you that it would be one of the best ways to start with programming. Do take a look at it.

Later, if your daughter decides that she wants to do Game Development, then she can try pygame (which is a bit low-level) or Game Maker Studio.

Otherwise, learning Python opens up a lot more options as well. So you might want to rethink her path depending on how the Stage #1 goes.

Good Luck!

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I remember having discovered Logo when I was 7 or 8. It is very good because it allows both a simple programming and visualizing the results. To my opinion, it gives the base ideas of (game) programming: logic, time notion (things you do first have an impact on what you'll do later) and a display.

Then Basic seems to be a good second language. This language gives the basic notions of programming: you have variables, loops, conditions, jumps (goto), procedures (gosub). And it allows easily to add a graphical display (print) and interactivity. Finally it allows to play with memory too (peek and poke) that are useful to optimize (reduce memory consumption or make things happen faster). Qbasic is a big no no there. I can remember both Amstrad and Atari got good Basic.

I am talking about my own passed. And I guess I'll do the same to my son if he'll be interested in this later. But I'm also sure there are many new things nowadays that can focus on more recent things (like scratch). But to my opinion scratch should come after Logo. Plus this language moves too quickly (AFAIK the language structure changes often), this might not help kids, which need to rely on something well funded to grow up on.

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