Light-Bot has been around for a few years – it began as a Flash game in 2008 – but this newer version has been rebuilt for iOS and Android and offers an easy way for kids to learn concepts like loops, if-then statements, and the like without typing or coding.
The creator, Daniel Yaroslavski, has been building games for seven years and is an undergrad at the University of Waterloo. He built the game with a $4,000 award from his school.
Previous versions of Light Bot have been played 7 million times and the apps are getting five-star ratings on iTunes and the Play store. “Teachers in the U.S., Russia and more use the original light-bot games in their classrooms to introduce programming concepts as well,” said Yaroslavski.
“Other players in the programming education space provide softwares which use code and words to teach programming. This instead is a video game and in its nature more engaging and less obviously teaches computer science; masking concepts as game mechanics and focusing on programming logic rather than direct coding,” said Yaroslavski. The game began as a sort of Q-Bert-like game that let you send a little robot up and down a series of blocks. Later, Yaroslavski added more educational aspects including the need to use programming concepts to solve puzzles.
“It’s the perfect way to let kids experience programming without sitting them in front of a wall of text,” said Yaroslavski.
There are plenty of other games that aim to teach programming, life skills, and the like. However, Yaroslavski’s is unique because it’s made by a student and already has a solid following in the Flash gaming world. It’s a fun little way to get your learn on, to be sure, and it’s quite a bit like the original kids language, LOGO.