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Friday, February 03, 2006

Teaching the Classics

If you're going to get students to learn computer programming, what's a better way than Pong?

A professor is giving a history lesson on a technological innovation that led to a revolutionary form of entertainment.

It’s compelling. It’s inspiring. It’s about PONG.

The all-male room of computer science students chatter periodically to each other about the merits of the Nintendo Power-Glove and Virtual Boy.

Soon, they will learn to develop video games of their own as part of the University’s new Introduction to Game Programming course.

The basics of game creation will be approached in an elementary way, said associate professor Jeff Smith, using standard computer development languages such as C, C++ and Java
-- Computer class masters world of PONG, asteroids

The class has the student complete three projects - a basic board game, a 2D shooter and then their own design. It also uses such bombs as Shaq Fu as well, contrary examples. I'm sure there are some stodgy types bemoaning that tuitions are going towards making, as my dad called it, Space Turkeys.

Yet, think about it. If you want your kid to become programming savvy ... and really , who doesn't ... right now I'd go get them a decent computer, a copy of Unreal Tournament 2004, and a short list of web sites. UnrealScript offers a Java-like language that can be developed without buying any extra software. Your kid could be learning object-orientated programming constructs for less than his first semester textbooks.

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1 comment:

Corvus said...

Coincidently, I just heard about an interesting MIT project this evening, called Scratch. There are a few open source OOP tools as well, aimed at kids.

I'll dig around some and see if I can cobble together an appropriate follow up post.