Editorial Review Updated June 2014

CodeCombat

Dungeon-crawling adventure where code is king
Graphite Rating 4
  • Choose a character, equipment and start coding!
  • Each game world features dozens of challenging coding levels.
  • Each level features goals to accomplish.
  • Write code and defeat the bad guys.
Pros
Writing code to play the game makes coding less intimidating and more fun.
Cons
Without some coding experience or coding support, players may find the game levels complicated.
Bottom Line
While not the first to blend coding with play, CodeCombat offers a stable, engaging, and accessible model.

Graphite Expert Review

David Thomas
Common Sense Graphite Reviewer
Director of academic technology
Graphite Rating 4
Learning Scores
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 5

Using code to control game characters makes it easy to get started. High-quality graphics make it feel like you're modifying a real game. Challenging puzzles keep players experimenting to find the best way to wipe out enemies.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Although there are plenty of code games as well as games that let you code, CodeCombat provides a unique hybrid. It challenges players to write code to control on-screen characters to complete specific goals.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

Hints, tutorials and level walkthroughs help players keep from getting stuck on tricky code programs while teacher aids and curriculum provide a structure for using the game in the classroom.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

CodeCombat would make a great platform for an after-school, game-based code club. Because the game focuses on play rather than on learning coding, teachers will need to find students motivated by the idea of battling knights and ogres. And because the game emphasizes doing, rather than rote memorization and programming concepts, teachers will need to be prepared to build lessons themselves and help students as they learn how to master the code -- and the game. As players get more advanced, they can learn to create their own levels, offering long-term motivation and development for burgeoning game programmers.

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What's It Like?

CodeCombat is an adventure game that teaches kids coding fundamentals. Whether they're stuck in a dungeon surrounded by enemies or racing across a battlefield prepared to conquer a foe, CodeCombat puts players into the action. Unlike other hack-and-slash fantasy games, CodeCombat players control their on-screen characters through programming. Want a knight to run down a hallway and taunt an ogre? Write a little JavaScript or Python that directs the character where to move and what to do. Want to roll a cannon across an open field and lob a bomb onto a patrolling enemy? Program the coordinates and launch your missile by calling the correct function. Each puzzle-like level challenges players to win the level by typing in code and running it to see what happens. Before kids know it, they've worked through the fundamentals and some advanced programming concepts and, in the process, outwitted some lumbering monsters.

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Is It Good For Learning?

CodeCombat's "play first, learn later" approach gets kids gaming long before it occurs to them they might want to learn a little programming. Fundamentally a game played by writing code, the site never feels like code school. Instead, the code works like a magical language, where properly formatted incantations animate the on-screen characters. While many educational games have tried to make learning more fun, this is a game in which the real challenge is to make fun more educational.

So while the game could use more educational content, the growing CodeCombat community promises to expand resources for teachers and learners. In the meantime, teachers would do well to check out this site to see an educational game done the right way.

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See how teachers are using CodeCombat

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