The challenge of helping children to learn programming skills has been occupying plenty of smart companies over the past few years. The latest example is called Erase All Kittens.
It’s aimed at children aged eight and up, and launched earlier this month as a website, promising a “fun, Mario-style game” that will introduce kids to coding, as well as the computational thinking skills that will help them.
Erase All Kittens has already been available for some children in a pilot version, attracting more than 70,000 players. Now it’s available as a free demo, although you can pay £4 per child for full access.
The game starts with your child picking a username, or choosing one from a selection like ‘BoldSkate96’ and ‘QueasyRat87’ – as ever with this kind of online game, it’s best for children not to use their actual names as their usernames.
The story should appeal to its 8-14 year-old target audience, inspired by internet culture (in other words, animated kitten GIFs!). The problem is that the kittens have gone missing, so children have to explore platform-based levels to find them.
Along the way, they’ll meet characters and have conversations with them, presented like threads in a messaging app, to uncover the story. But kids can also click an ‘Edit’ button to make changes to each level using HTML code.
It looks fun, and the game’s developers say there’ll be more storylines and coding tasks added every few weeks this year, giving children a reason to come back.
Whether they’re playing Erase All Kittens at home or at school – teachers are also being encouraged to try it with their classes – this could be a fun way in to programming for your children. We’ll be keen to see how it evolves, and we’d particularly like to see it work on tablets and smartphones. Stay tuned.