Microsoft, in an effort to encourage creativity and the STEM initiative, announced yesterday the launch of its Kodu Game Lab for the PC and the nationwide Microsoft Kodu Cup 2011 competition.
The Kodu Game Lab promotes skills and interest in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Increasing these STEM skills is considered paramount by the Obama administration and industry leaders in keeping the United States on a competitive footing with the rest of the world.
The free game design tool helps kids build their own video game. Images and icons, used in place of programming, are dragged and dropped. Children build interactive environments complete with cartoon characters and communities.
“Our research has shown that Kodu Game Lab appeals equally to girls and boys, and helps promote creativity, self-confidence, critical thinking and technology skills,” said Lili Cheng, general manager of Microsoft’s Future Social Experiences Labs. “Kids don’t feel like they’re programming so much as playing, even though they’re creating sophisticated worlds, characters and storylines.”
The Kodu Cup encourages children age 9 to 17 to submit the games they’ve designed and built for competition. Submissions are accepted through May 10. The grand prize winners receive $5,000 for themselves and their schools, and a trip to the Imagine Cup 2011 Worldwide Finals in New York.