For some, learning to code feels like an uphill battle. For others, the similarities might not be close enough. Enter CodeCombat: A free, online game that leverages the visual metaphor of a battlefield as a way of teaching coding in a fun, exciting manner.
By disguising the educational process as a large-scale RPG, students are able to pick-up essential abilities in an entertaining fashion. The fact that CodeCombat laces education with fun makes it more effective. This is because kids not only pay more attention during lessons but also show less resistance to the reinforcement sessions needed to solidify their understanding.
While all of CodeCombat's core levels are free, upgrades ($9.99 a month) are available for those that want extra levels or more in-game currency. Subscribers to CodeCombat have over 400 levels at their disposal, and their numbers just keep multiplying.
With company reports stating that nearly 10 levels are added to the platform's inventory every week, even the most insatiable of players won't find themselves at a loss for new territories to conquer!
A Brief Overview of Game Play
The game allows the players to transport themselves straight to the front lines. While you can make an account, it is not necessary to be logged-in in order to play, and a “Play Now” option on the landing page deploys users directly to the heart of the combat zone.
After selecting the language in which they'll be operating, players are sent to an opening level, which serves as a boot camp before they embark on their heroic crusade! Here, they are taught the basics of coding by practising giving movement commands to their avatar in coded script.
All character movements result from players inputting code telling them in which direction to go, and because of the labyrinthine nature of the levels, this results in players getting to practice typing-out commands. A lot.
Fortunately, the constant drilling of command creation allows students to get comfortable with the syntax of the language they're learning and gives them the practice necessary for it to become second-nature.
In the same way that if one were learning Spanish, moving to Spain would be muy bueno for getting ample practice at applying concepts learned in Spanish class, the constant reinforcement of syntactical structures in CodeCombat allows players to feel natural in their expression of ideas through code.
People mildly familiar with coding can opt-out of the imprisonment of the training level, and proceed to a dungeon of their choosing. Unfortunately, though the game allows you to bypass the training level, beyond that, the sequential order of the levels must be followed.
Once players arrive at the dungeons, they must craft code that simultaneously negotiates three tasks: It must give their character a set of instructions that allows it to clear the maze while picking up gems, which are the in-game currency and avoiding any spikes.
Upon the successful completion of the level without one's player incurring any inadvertent piercings or unplanned body modifications, you'll be allowed to progress to the next board, where you'll code your way through the fray once more
Things get harder from here on out!
As the game progresses, new terrains are thrown into the mix, with deserts and forests providing a much-needed respite from the dungeon-chic aesthetic of the earlier portions. In addition to learning coding languages, students can pick-up an assortment of other skills.
Some worlds provide in-roads into web development, teaching players how to flex their muscles in HTML and scripting. Other boards teach kids the basics of game development by allowing them to create their own levels.
Regardless of the objective, challenges get more demanding and involved as students advance. Throughout the over 400 levels that players will encounter during their tours of the battlefronts of CodeCombat, players will learn concepts that span the entire spectrum of difficulty.
From complicated concepts such as string comparison, relational operators, and object literals being introduced in understandable, to non-intimidating ways that make them seem like treasures to be acquired instead of ogres to be escaped.
Purchasing the premium membership for $9.99 a month will allow access to special levels and new classes of characters. Paying subscribers can unlock mages and hunters, and experience the game through the new and dynamic perspectives that accompany these roles.
Mages, with their command over the world of the mystical and supernatural, provide an opportunity to experience the magic of coding by writing code for spells.
Even if later on you decide you no longer want to pay the monthly subscription fee, you'll still be able to keep all of the unlocked missions and characters as spoils of war!
What Shortcomings does CodeCombat Have?
As previously mentioned, it would be ideal if players could skip ahead to other levels at will. While in the classroom edition, teachers have the ability to transport kids directly to any world, without a teacher to airlift you to your level of choice, you'll have to take a path paved with lengthy battles and sometimes-redundant lessons.
Additionally, the game-play component is a bit underwhelming at times. However, this is a limitation induced by the prioritization of simplicity of concept-acquisition as a guiding principle.
Flashier moves may make for a more entertaining gaming experience but they also invite frustration. Possibly even confusion, as students struggle to figure out how to code the instructions for them.
CodeCombat makes the quest of learning to code a fun-filled adventure for children. It also bestows them with essential skills that are only certain to grow more in demand as workplace automation increases the need for those that can code. If Pat Benatar was correct and “Love is a Battlefield,” then CodeCombat will make coding easy to love.