CMU uses game maker’s characters to interest girls in computer programming

“If you walk into a roomful of middle school girls and say ‘Do you want to learn how to program a computer?’, only a few hands will go up,” says Carnegie Mellon University computer science professor Randy Pausch.

“But if you walk in and say ‘Do you want to learn how to tell a story and make a movie?’, all the hands go up.” —Mark RothCMU uses game maker’s characters to interest girls in computer programming (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

I interviewed Pausch when he was working at the University of Virginia and I was a PR writer there. He was doing VR at the time. (This was around 1991, so the big VR wave hadn’t crested at the time.)

I came across this article while Googling for Game Maker, a very slick point-and-click tool for creating sprite-based games. A fully functional version is free, but the paid version is only $20. I had used a similar product, Games Factory, but that hasn’t been updated in years. The creator of Game Maker obviously has education in mind — the site’s documentation is written for non-experts.

Of course I’ll be sacrificing power when I choose a point-and-click tool. But people who aren’t planning to be computer programmers can stand to learn quite a lot about the world through picking up the basic concepts of game design, just as people who don’t plan to be novelists can learn from a freshman comp course.