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Video Game Programming for Kids Paperback – April 5, 2012

3.9 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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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).
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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: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #662,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I don't have kids, so I can't offer a review for the target audience (children ages 8-12). What I can say is that I have a job I love today because I learned programming with BASIC when I was about 10 years old. Neither of my parents was a programmer, but they did have a computer that I played games on, and with the help of some books from the school library, I set out to learn how to make games of my own. If you ask other programmers of my generation, many of them will tell you similar stories. Getting kids started in programming is a wonderful thing, and if you ask a kid what they'd like to program, the answer is always games.

Of course, computers have changed a lot since my mid-'90s childhood, but BASIC is just as good of a learning tool, and fun games are still fun games. The IDE and compiler used in the book, QB64, is free and available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Just download it and run; no additional installation required.

After a kid finishes this book, I'd recommend that they move on to web programming with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. There are countless books on the subject, some specifically oriented toward making games.
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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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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I am a long time IT veteran. I have written several books for IT professionals and when I saw this book for kids, I just had to take a look. I was not disappointed. It teaches my kids to learn programming the same way I did in the 1980s, how cool is that. No cheating with fancy graphics engines that pre-exist. No, write that game from scratch with character-based graphics baby! I love it.

Awesome book to carry on the nostalgia of a previous generation. Also, 8-bit gaming is back! :)
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