Everyone loves playing video games, and many people dream of being able to make their very own games. Unfortunately that has never been easy to do, and usually requires quite a bit of programming skill. In most cases, you have to do a substantial amount of coding before you can even see any of the graphics. That can be a serious damper on creativity, particularly for children. But the new GameBender “Invention Gaming System” takes a radically different approach to making games that is appealing to young creators.
GameBender just launched on Kickstarter, and was developed by the same people who created the popular Makey Makey electronic invention kit. At its core, GameBender is a video game console. It has controllers with a familiar twin-stick layout, and a camera for interactive experiences. It runs games that were created in Scratch, which is a visual block-based programming language. In fact, the founder of GameBender, Jay Silver, helped develop Scratch at MIT back in 2007. There are more than a million Scratch games available, so entertainment options are near limitless.
But what makes GameBender really stand out is the ability to modify and create games. That starts with “Glitches,” which are visual code snippets that can be used to alter the game. For example, you can use a Glitch to swap out a character, or to change the layout of a level. You can also use Game Filters to alter the entire game at once, for instance by changing the color palette. There are many Glitches and Game Filters built-in, but you can also start coding your own. That provides an interactive introduction to programming.
Eventually, you can use those skills to create games completely on your own. You can select any object in any game to see how the underlying code works, and use that as a reference when building your own code. In that way, making a game is more like an arts and crafts project than traditional programming. The entire GameBender system is designed to make modifying and creating games fun, and the possibilities are endless.
If you want a GameBender, the Kickstarter campaign will be running until June 28th. Backers can get the GameBender Founder’s Edition for $289, which includes the console, controller, camera, 3D glasses, and 50 Glitch cards. Delivery is expected in February of 2020.