GameBender Combines Gaming and Invention
Tom Spendlove posted on May 30, 2019 |
The creator of Makey Makey is back with a gaming console that teaches you to code.

Jay Silver says that “coding lessons often fall flat because they don’t start with what’s awesome, and that many children don’t learn well in isolation.” He believes that the addictive properties of gaming can be applied to a person’s creativity and ability to code. Silver and his team at GameBender have developed a system where creating a game and playing a game can happen at the same time. The group is running a Kickstarter campaign to launch the system.

The guts of this gaming platform is that users can change (bend) the game while playing. Scratch games have been around since 2007 and the campaign says that at least a million games exist for users to play. The campaign video shows game characters growing, morphing, and color filters added, with the idea that you can change a game as easy as applying an Instagram filter. Photos from the system’s camera can be imported into the game and augmented reality or sound controls can be used too. Coding cards are supplied with the system that let the users create these glitch effects using Scratch code. The controllers for the system are hard wired and no third party controllers work with the system at this time. However, any USB keyboard and mouse can control the games. There are also apps and cartoon tv episodes that users can view and then bend.

GameBender wears the proud distinction of being “the only game console founded by the National Science Foundation.” Jay Silver should be an engineering hero to everyone based on his time working to develop the Scratch language at MIT, his work developing Makey Makey, and even my very first article written here at The How It Works section of the company’s website is full of demonstration videos and videos from Silver about how we learn, and how those lessons can be applied to coding. Each year I see that students need to know more about coding and electronics to be better engineers of any discipline and GameBender will give kids valuable tools and experience. The Kickstarter campaign was launched on May 29 and will end on June 28, 2019.

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