Lots of computer geeks love them, but I have an aversion to board games. At most once a year I can gently enjoy playing a round of Monopoly, draughts or even (if rather badly) chess. I trust the classics, knowing they’ve stood the test of time. What makes me cringe, though, is the board game that has been invented — no, that’s too kind — that has been produced as a brand tie-in, like The Top-Gear Board Game¹. Knowing the only motive is profit, how can I expect an enjoyable well-crafted game playing experience?
So what shall I make of C-Jump? It looks like the motive in this case is good educational intentions, and so instinctively I cringe for the game play. And I cringe for the C code. It claims to be “based on the code of a real computer program” but most of the moves are written as expressions with no assignment of the result (“x + 2;”).
At the same time, I am fascinated by the possibility it might be able to sow a seed of familiarity and fun in a child’s mind, just enough to provoke a curiosity later in life on encountering the same symbols again, in the same way that playing with fluffy toy horsies², even if they are green and blue and yellow, might for a certain child spark a vet’s career.
I have to admire the effort that seems to have been put into it. It might even be playable. Once a year.
¹ I have no idea if that’s really a Thing, but I bet it is. [UPDATE: Yes, I checked, it is.]
² Dear spelling checker, “horsies” does indeed have an “i” in it.
Hello Julian, what age do you think this game might be suitable from? I would think you would want to get kids playing it pretty young, before they would be learning C otherwise.
Heh! — the web site says “11+” but in my book they should almost be programming real C by then. I know a six-and-a-half-year-old who I’m sure would have no trouble with something like this.
What do you think of the BBC giving Micro-Bits to school-children? Will it help? Or won’t they all have access to a ‘proper’ computer anyway, and be able to make use of C-Jump?
I confess I wasn’t aware of the MicroBit — Radio 4 doesn’t seem to be talking about it much. I’ve just been reading a bit about it. Great to see the BBC sponsoring computers in schools again. It’s a very different proposition from the BBC Micro. Now it’s not primarily about making computers available to children, but about teaching them that hardware and software are building blocks they can learn to create and control rather than being merely a “content delivery” system.