Icelandic tech company, Radiant Games, earlier this week released the computer game Box Island—a game aimed at kids eight years and older, which incorporates basic programming lessons.
In 2013 the company received a three year annual grant of ISK 12,5 million (USD 97,300; EUR 85,450) from the Icelandic Technology Development Fund, for the development of the game.
“We need to understand better how computers work, and at a much earlier age,” said Vignir Örn Guðmundsson, director of Radiant Games, in an interview with Vísir Wednesday.
“Programming is incredibly important, it could well be argued that it is the literacy of the 21st century. Researchers at Oxford University predict that within the next twenty years, 45 percent of jobs will be automated in some form.”
In the game, players accompany main character Hero on his adventures around Box Island. “Kids need to use basic programming skills to program the path Hero needs to take to get ahead,” described Vignir.
Box Island will be available in Icelandic, which Vignir says is very important. “Having it in Icelandic is important when it comes to a brain teaser like this. It can be extra-complicating to have to constantly translate from English, for someone who perhaps doesn’t have perfect control over the language yet.”
Teachers have shown an interest in incorporating the game into the curriculum, but nothing concrete has been decided and Radiant Games are primarily focusing on the general market for video games.
The game will for the time being only be accessible in Iceland, but according to Vignir an international launch is planned later this fall.
“The goal has always been to make the best game to teach kids programming on an international scale.”