Plenty of kids have grown up wishing they could create their own video game after spending hours with a controller, headset, and the latest Breath of the Wild. I know I did. Insert the hands-on platform, Bloxels. Created by Pixel Press, a company striving to allow kids to use both sides of their brain, the creative and the analytical. Bloxels is one of the best forms of hands-on, experiential learning in the coding and technology space out there right now.
As the chairman of the Cincinnati chapter of the International Game Developers Association, Bloxels hits close to home. I love that my five year old plays video games. However, since the very first time he picked up a controller, I’ve made sure he understood that other people created these games. They’re not some mystical thing only to be consumed. You can make them too. Now, with Bloxels, I’ve been able to show my son what creation can look like. Not just consumption. That’s why we’ve made this both our Toy of Toy Fair AND (AND!) our Game of GDC.
Bloxels was highlighted at this year’s SXSW, and has been all over the press. Kids are learning to build, collaborate, and tell stories through video game creation. Here’s how it works:
- Bloxels comes equipped with a Gameboard and colored blocks. Each block equates to something inside a video game. Think, green for terrain, blue for water, purple for enemies, and yellow for coins.
- Kids position the blocks on the Gameboard to create the layout of their game, then use the blocks to create their characters.
- There’s a free app that comes with the Bloxels set so that pictures of the creations can be captured and customized.
- Once customized, the game can be played and uploaded to the Infinity Wall to be shared with others.
While kids learn a bit of coding skills using Bloxels, they’re also learning about game design and usability. Which is the point. People are creating these games for consumers to play and enjoy. As kids create new characters and layouts, they begin thinking about that user experience beyond their own personal consumption.
The Bloxels team recently held the Kids as Video Game Makers (KVGM) 2017 competition and challenged kids to “Build Your Own Future.” It’s three winners were chosen earlier this month and highlighted on their website so others could discover and play the games on the Infinity Wall. It’s been awesome to watch my son create his own worlds with Bloxels and we’ve been able to navigate those places together. As a tech dad, it’s one of the coolest experiences.