Gates & Co. have now made available the Kodu Game Lab software, a tool set that will allow children to build their own video games, and submit their creations for some lovely, lovely prizes. Microsoft's press release states that the Kodu Game Lab will offer "an interactive system that guides users through each step of making games -- creating terrain, adding characters and programming them. It also includes a community feature that allows users to share games with other PC-based Kodu Game Lab users." I find this to be a fantastic idea. For all the flak video games receive for being some sort of mind-rotting exercise in button mashing, critics often overlook that behind the array of flashes and discordant battlefield ambiance, there's an impressive sophistication to the art of game design. LittleBigPlanet's "Play, Create, Share" philosophy has led to a groundswell of creativity, and it's lovely to see children being given the opportunity to tap into their boundless imagination to toy with game design.
From the press release:
- Submissions will be accepted through May 10, with winners announced in late May.
- The competition will be broken into two age groups -- 9 to 12 years old and 13 to 17 years old -- with a grand prize winner and first and second runners-up from each group.
- The grand prize winners receive $5,000 for themselves and their respective schools, as well as a trip to the Imagine Cup 2011 Worldwide Finals in New York.
- Kids are encouraged to participate, register and learn more about the competition at http://koducup.us.
- All entrants under the age of 13 must have a parent or guardian's consent to participate in the competition.
- Quick tips on gaming are available at http://GetGameSmart.com.
So if you have a child, or can rent one from a friend or family member, be sure to introduce him or her to the Kodu Game Lab. Just think, decades from now, he or she could grow up to be the lead designer on Final Fantasy XXVII (featuring Omni-Bahamut), exclusive the CognoBox Alternate Reality Synthesizer. God help us when it achieves self-awareness.
The program can be downloaded at http://fuse.microsoft.com/project/kodu.aspx,