kids

‘My 10yo daughter wanted to learn how to create video games. So she tried this game that shows us how.'

Nintendo
Thanks to our brand partner, Nintendo

Growing up, I was NOT the gamer in our household. That title belonged to my older brother. He had a whole host of consoles for Space Invaders, Streetfighter and EA Sports that he played solo or with his friends.        

None of this gaming business interested me in the slightest. That was until one year, Santa gifted me a Nintendo Game Boy. A clear one.   

That’s right: the very one that allowed you to see inside of its very being, and encourage you to stare at all the cords and wires inside (or just me? It was MESMERISING).

This handheld device changed my perspective on video games. 

Super Mario became my homie. Donkey Kong became my alter-ego. And Tetris, be still my beating heart. Tetris had me drifting off to sleep at night whilst rearranging blocks behind my eyelids. It was pure, virtual, love.  

A lot has changed in gaming since that little handheld beauty entered my life over 20 years ago. 

Most notably in my household, the Nintendo Switch. This device has revolutionised the way my 10-year-old daughter Summer plays games – it plugs into the TV and can also be used as a handheld device. It’s crazy! 

And being the curious little kitten that she is, Summer is all about the questions:

"How do they make everything in video games look so good?" 

"How do they make characters jump and stuff move?"

"How does someone even learn how to design video games?"

"Who on earth creates games anyway?"

So, it was no surprise that when Nintendo gifted us a copy of the latest Switch game Game Builder Garage, to try that Summer literally snatched it out of my hands and popped it into her Switch to play (so proud of her manners…).

Image: Supplied. 

ADVERTISEMENT

It's a new fun and interactive game for Nintendo Switch that teaches practically anyone (of reading age, that is) how to program and design video games. From what we could see, it basically makes learning game design accessible and far less intimidating!

So time to try it out then.

Image: Supplied. 

The initial game screen gives players two simple options – Interactive Lessons or Free Programming. 

As building a virtual game isn’t as simple as drawing a hopscotch course on the pavement with chalk, the idea of Game Builder Garage is to set kids up with 7 fun, interactive lessons BEFORE programming games so they can learn the foundational skills of game design first. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Doing this makes the final stage – building your own – so much more fun!

Each of the 7 Interactive Lessons contains a series of steps, with each one showing the player a cool, new programming skill, which uses colourful creatures called Nodon. 

Each Nodon has a different personality, and represents a different in-game function. So you have your Button Nodon that make something happen when you press a button, and then the Person Nodon that represents a person in-game. When you then connect the two together, the person jumps when you press a button! 

The skills keep building so that at the end of each lesson, a mini game can be played which includes all of the new foundation skills you have learnt. 

Basically, you have built a game with all of the steps you have taken throughout the lesson – pretty neat right?!

It was quite comical watching Summer get started as the in-game guides Bob and Alice provide (what you don't know at the time) 'bugged' challenges and instructions.

Image: Supplied. 

So Bob is telling Summer to make the character jump but she can’t, and just like 10-year-olds do, she was carrying on that the ‘B’ button on her Nintendo Switch was broken, and was getting all red and flustered. 

ADVERTISEMENT

That was until his little speech bubble assured her that she wasn’t doing anything wrong, something different just needed to happen to make it work. 

It was so funny (and clever!) to watch that I literally pulled up the bean bag and hung around to watch her play. My hubby even got involved in the hooting and hollering from the living room!

Starting at the first lesson and then continuing through the others, Summer learnt to join Nodon together to make things move, helped an alien spaceship fly and played a new form of ping pong between two characters. And what was cool, is that SHE had made these things that were happening in the game. 

Image: Supplied. 

It didn’t come pre-built, Summer had to experience the lessons to understand what was required to make each game come to life. 

As she worked her way through the lessons, I watched her change. 

Her concentration intensified, her posture got straighter and her commentary grew more understanding and excited rather than negative and defeated (there were lots of 'woohoo' and 'YESSSS' going on). 

She was in a zone I had never seen her in before – she was listening and learning. Something so foreign for so many parents!

Image: Supplied. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Through the engaging, intuitive software, Summer learnt that seemingly complex programming concepts are actually not so hard to grasp. 

From getting a character in the game to jump and move around, to adding structures, the lessons were helping her build a bank of programming skills so she could apply them in her own virtual world. 

Image: Supplied. 

ADVERTISEMENT

By the end of the lessons, Summer was ready to start building her own games within the Free Programming section of the game. 

The result? A cute little robot with a television and blocks that the robot can push and pull and jump over. 

It may not sound like much but she’s incredibly proud of herself as it’s something she never knew how to do previously and never would have been able to do without learning it all from Game Builder Garage. 

And her favourite creation? The mini rolling-ball-through-a-maze game. 

Image: Supplied. 

Actually, the whole family like this one – we have created a bit of a competition to see who can get to the end first, stop-watch and all!

Image: Supplied. 

ADVERTISEMENT

This game is only limited by your child’s imagination. It’s a game that you seriously can play over and over again and the games you create will always be different. 

High-speed racing is their thing? Or perhaps they prefer an alien blaster adventure? They can literally make all of this.

Image: Supplied.

Game Builder Garage is definitely a fun Nintendo Switch game we recommend for any parent who's keen to nurture their children's STEM development. 

ADVERTISEMENT

STEM is an area that Summer isn’t typically excited about, but as someone who works with teachers and educators, watching her actually enjoy tinkering with science and technology made me so happy.

Image: Supplied. 

And it’s not an excitable, high-energy game where kids need to jump around, collect things and chase people constantly. 

It’s instead really good for encouraging a bit of quiet time and allow themselves to use their device responsibly and learn something useful that delivers a really exciting and end result (and allows me to actually finish a whole cup of tea while it’s still hot!).

Image: Supplied. 

ADVERTISEMENT

It's fun and not in any way intimidating like a lot of programming software and classes can be. We highly rate this game! Game Builder Garage is exclusive to Nintendo Switch too. 

I can guarantee that it would create some very happy kiddies come Christmas morning. 

And if you haven’t got a Nintendo Switch, then I suggest you go get one right now, you will never see or experience video gaming the same again!

Learn to make games from the minds at Nintendo with Game Builder Garage. Check it out  here or download the demo now to enjoy Lesson 1: Tag Showdown (where you build a game of tag for two people to play. Watch your head!).

Feature Image: Supplied.

Share with us. Take our survey for a chance to win a $100 voucher.
MMSurvey
Nintendo
Learn to make games from the minds at Nintendo! Game Builder Garage is available now, exclusively on Nintendo Switch (game and system sold separately). If you want to take it for a spin prior to purchasing, you can download the free demo on Nintendo eShop now and work your way through the entirety of Lesson 1 "Tag Showdown."