Microsoft Encourages Children to Write Games for Good

If you’d like to encourage your child’s computer gaming habit to turn into something more than just a hobby, you might want to check out the latest “Imagine Cup” competition being staged by Microsoft.

The Imagine Cup is a series of educational challenges that Microsoft runs each year to get youth involved with issues or problems faced by communities around the world. This new one, called the Imagine Cup Kodu Challenge, encourages children ages 9 to 18 (there are two participating age brackets) to create video games using the Microsoft Kodu game-creation toolkit. The catch is that the content they create has to demonstrate a sensitivity to global water issues, including clean water engineering and the role of water during disaster relief.

“Microsoft developed Kodu to transform programming from a skill perceived as overly difficult to grasp to one that is fun and kid-friendly,” said Scott Fintel, a Kodu producer at Microsoft. “By getting students interested in game design at an early age through Imagine Cup, it’s our hope they will acquire new skills that will translate into a lifelong passion for computer programming and computer science and will encourage them to explore STEM-related careers in the future.”

The Kodu Challenge will run until May 17, 2013. The program is being held in partnership with Mercy Corps, a global community development organization based in Portland, Oregon, and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, which focuses on the role that digital media and emerging technologies play in educating children.

Students in the two age brackets (9 to 12, and 13 to 18) can compete for first-price prizes of $3,000, second-place prizes of $2,000 and third-place prices of $1,000.

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