Game creation platforms we're currently using at our Code Club
We've seen a few great games coming out of Code Club. So far we've been using Scratch but we also have a class set of Stencyl licences. Stencyl isn't covered by Code Club, but there's some lessons to get started here.
Differences between Scratch and Stencyl
Scratch has a simple interface, making it quite a lot easier to get started with for those who haven't programmed before. Scratch doesn't need to be installed, since you can sign up online and access it with a web browser. This is probably the best choice for kids to start coding, and the advantage of a Code Club is that there are lots of activies ready to go. Sitting with others at a Code Club can also make it easier to learn from each other, and teachers or volunteers. Scratch can also be used to control physical devices. We use Scratch for our BrickPi robot.
Although both of these programming platforms are visual, Stencyl makes it easy to create larger and more complicated games, and has the advantage of allowing games to be pushed to mobile devices and app stores, including Android and iOS devices. There's also a free version to get started with, and this still allows the games to be played in a web browser, or hosted on a website. Unlike Scratch, that lets you create online and share a link to a game, putting a Stencyl game online requires some sort of web hosting. The popular Impossible Pixel game was written with Stencyl.
There's some really good books available for both of these programming platforms, as well as online video tutorials on YouTube.
Australian game programming competitions
Since our Code Club kids are starting to create some interesting games, there's two competitions in Australia that may be interesting.
- Code Club Australia Scratch Day competition will have winners announced on Scratch Day, 14 May 2016, with submissions closing at 12 AM Thursday 12 May 2016.
- Australian STEM videogame challenge is a national competition open to all Australian students in years 5-12. Registration is open now until June 2016, with game submission from 7-19 August inclusive.
These are both great opportunities for young coders who are interested in submitting their games!
Click on the links above for more information. Parents' permission is required to enter these competitions.