The game was tested on a group of 10- to 12-year-old girls who had never done any programming before. After an hour of gameplay, the girls had mastered some of the basic components of Java. The team that developed the game — from UC San Diego — plans to release the game for free and make it available to educational institutions and code clubs.
Computer scientist William Griswold, who headed up the project, said he developed the game because there is a lack of qualified instructors to teaching computer science below college level in a way that is accessible. Griswold and his graduate students decided to design a videogame that “completely immerses programming into the gameplay”. The aim was to keep children engaged while they are learning programming, which can be frustrating.
Texas 10-year-old Rhys uses Gamestar Mechanic to program and create worlds to play in, learning valuable skills in science, technology, engineering, and math along the way.