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Video Game Programming for Kids Paperback – April 5, 2012


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Video Game Programming for Kids + Super Scratch Programming Adventure!: Learn to Program By Making Cool Games + Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Cengage Learning PTR; 1 edition (April 5, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1435461169
  • ISBN-13: 978-1435461161
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.9 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #276,574 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

1. Hello Stinky Head [intro to QB64]. 2. Big Mean Kitty Chases Cute Little Dog [simple graphics]. 3. Save the Hangman [simple game]. 4. Finding Secret Pirate Treasure [timed game]. 5. Let's Go Fishing [complex graphics]. 6. Backpack Attack [first real time game]. 7. Fighting Scary Robots that like to say "Exterminate!" [audio chapter]. 8. Super Squirt Gun versus the Lizard [getting player input]. 9. You Forgot Your Combination!? [doing math]. 10. You Big Ant Stomping Meanie [arrays]. 11. Beetles Are Kind of Dumb (but let's be nice to them) [game logic]. 12. Driving Like Crazy [serious collision game]. 13. Catch The Parachute Guy!

About the Author

Jonathan S. Harbour is an associate professor at the University of Advancing Technology (Tempe, AZ). His web site at www.jharbour.com includes an online forum and blog for book support. His most recent game projects are Starflight - The Lost Colony (www.starflightgame.com) and Aquaphobia: Mutant Brain Sponge Madness (www.aquaphobiagame.com).

More About the Author

Jonathan S. Harbour was born in Sacramento, California, and has lived in Oregon, Arizona, and Ohio where he now resides with his wife and four children. Now a full-time writer, he previously worked as an Associate Professor for five years at UAT (Tempe, AZ) working on the Bachelor and Master programs in game development (computer science). His books cover many languages (C++, C#, VB, Basic, Lua, Python, Java), libraries (DirectX, Allegro, XNA), and hardware (GBA, Xbox, Xbox 360, cell phones). For fun, he enjoys reading books on physics, cosmology, metaphysics, anthropology, and science fiction with a personal library of over 500 books. He also enjoys bike riding, long hikes, and mind-expanding TV shows and movies of the futurist variety.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By InfoFish on July 1, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am not really sure what happened. I ordered this book, thinking that sometime in the future, maybe I could use it with my son. Imagine my shock and awe as my 8 year old boy (adhd - bonkers - the whole nine yards - and if you have one of these boys you know EXACTLY what I am speaking of!) opened it, read it, got my husband to download the compiling software and sat for hours writing his own program using the book. I fell over and stayed on the floor for a few hours. I'm back up now and absolutely baffled. The kid I have to wrestle with for six hours to do 5 minutes worth of spelling words TOOK INITIATIVE and SAT STILL and FOLLOWED DIRECTIONS (and knows how to type?!?!?). He TOOK INITIATIVE - that just doesn't happen with this kid. Not quite the second coming, but pretty close for anyone who knows my son. This book performed a miracle. BTW, the first program he did was a number guessing one, and it worked, right off the bat, we didn't have to go back and check his code. I am astonished. More than that - I am hopeful. This book gave me hope. This book gave him hope - I can see he is very proud of himself. Huge self esteem boost. And what a useful skill to develop to boot.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Brian Connors VINE VOICE on May 23, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In a lot of ways, I feel like I've read this book before, back in the 8-bit days. The games are almost all very strongly retro-style, including clones of Breakout and Robotron:2084. The choice of language is a somewhat obscure BASIC dialect called QB64, essentially an open-source clone of QuickBasic -- yep, right there I can hear all the old-liners wincing at teaching 2012 kids using a late-80s language that almost no one remembers fondly. (Note to writers of books such as this: if you're not going to use a modern language like, oh, Python, literally everyone has ready access to Javascript in their internet browsers. Take advantage.)

The author's style is overcaffeinated and a bit patronizing, like a bad parody of Barney or Captain Kangaroo. The lessons themselves seem pretty solid, but the overall feeling is that the author is just trying a bit too hard. There's no reference material or full-length program listings, so a kid has to go back through the book to find information that an adult book would usually have in an appendix. It does not help at all that the author seems to love taunting the trademark police -- the Breakout clone has a completely meaningless quidditch reference in the title, for example.

Between the odd choice of language, weird writing style, and games that probably appeal a lot more to the author than his audience (an audience currently growing up with games like Angry Birds and Portal), the book isn't awful, but it's definitely not the first I'd reach for to buy a kid. Both computers and kids' educational books have come a long way since then, and it seems like the author missed the memo on this one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jaime Moreno VINE VOICE on September 20, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book being aimed at kids aged 8-12 I must say there are way more easier ways for kids of this age group to learn video game programming.
Scratch, Alice, Kodu,GreenFoot,Google app inventor and Gamemaker are just some of the programs that are directly aimed at that age group.
Having said that maybe it just depends on the kid. I can only think back to when I was that age and remember I definitely would not have the patience to read this entire book. The long listing of code and lack of pictures would be enough to deter me.
Then again assuming you have a grown up to help you wade through the book, as with the author's kids in this book I assume it would be easier or if you're as visual a learner.
Anyways, getting back to the book it's actually a decent enough book if you are unaware of the programs I mentioned above or plan on growing up to be a programmer where you will be expected to type quite a bit more code.
The author gives you plenty of code to type and covers all the basic simple arcade type of games like hangman, adventure, treasure hunt, breakout clone, seawar, scrollers, etc...
Most importantly, an entire chapter is spent on the core foundation for any game involving graphics, which is the sprite.
It's pretty amazing he's able to cram so many games into just a 200 page book!
I think you can thank the simplicity of the BASIC language for that though.
One other downside is that author likes to ramble and go off on tangents, like the state machine one he does in an early chapter, that could probably be put to better use and will probably just confuse a kid more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By CrimsonGirl VINE VOICE on July 12, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
My 9 year old daughter has gotten a passion for programming thanks to "Video Game Programming for Kids". While she has now moved on from QB64 to Microsoft Small Basic and currently the very beginning stages of learning Visual Basic (using Mr. Harbour's Visual Basic Game Programming for Teens (For Teens (Course Technology))), she is glad that she started out with this particular book. Jumping right into the other languages would have been too difficult without the background provided by "Video Game Programming for Kids". I asked her to write a review of the book for other 'tweens, and here is what she has to say:

"Video Game Programming is informative, easy, and fun. The games are sometimes a bit violent but not at all gory. It starts out with the basics, and slowly moves it up until you're programming video games featuring sound and animation, with no idea how you got there so fast! It's awesome."

Highly recommended.
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