Geekzone: technology news, blogs, forums
Welcome Guest.
You haven't logged in yet. If you don't have an account you can register now.

1472 posts

Uber Geek

# 107249 9-Aug-2012 09:06
Send private message

My 12 year old has expressed an interest in writing his own programs. So I'm doing a bit of research to find what people reckon is a good platform for him to dip his toes in the programming pool.

I'm looking for something that is pretty quick to pick up the basics of, and will have some fairly immediate payoff to hook him in - so that he can see results rapidly, then go on from there.

He has the attention span for it, given the hours (and hours) he spends playing Minecraft, downloading mods and new worlds for Minecraft, researching new tricks to use in Minecraft and watching walkthoughs on youtube of other people's Minecraftery. He likes Minecraft.

His teacher has given making a computer game on a topic relating to a book the class is reading as an option for a project. That's about all the information the teacher gave, something like "write a computer game, I have no idea how, but I'm told it can be done, go for it".

This is a chance for me to steer his computer addiction into a useful direction.

Any ideas from the pros? I'm in IT, but not a programmer, so I don't know if one of the major platforms would be a good starting place, or if there's something more basic (like BASIC when I was a lad) that would be a better place to start. I remember programming in LOGO when I was in school, geez I'm old.

Create new topic
4004 posts

Uber Geek


  # 669938 9-Aug-2012 09:16
Send private message

Kodu is a pretty cool platform to work on if you are under 14 years. It's very interactive so keeps kids entertained. If something more professional then start with scripting languages like Python, Javascript.

Do whatever you want to do man.



155 posts

Master Geek

  # 669939 9-Aug-2012 09:16
Send private message

Jeez - other than my son being 15 and not 12 like your son, I could have written this post!
My son exactly the same - lives for Minecraft and its mods, wants to learn programming, I am in IT but not programming.



1472 posts

Uber Geek

  # 669945 9-Aug-2012 09:27
Send private message

billgates: Kodu is a pretty cool platform to work on if you are under 14 years. It's very interactive so keeps kids entertained. If something more professional then start with scripting languages like Python, Javascript.

That looks like exactly the kind of thing I'm after. I'll stick on his PC & have a play with it.

2954 posts

Uber Geek

  # 669954 9-Aug-2012 09:54
Send private message

my son was the same and he loved the RPGmaker program. it does cost but there are free trials also available.

Common sense is not as common as you think.

1551 posts

Uber Geek


  # 669956 9-Aug-2012 09:59
Send private message

Im trying to get the kids into SmallBasic (

5 posts

Wannabe Geek


  # 671903 13-Aug-2012 18:04
Send private message

Let him make his personal page using HTML, CSS, Javascript.
You can offer him a task to make your family's picture gallery using Fancybox for example =)
You don't even need to have server - you can develop this at the localhost

Dev from Russia =)

171 posts

Master Geek

  # 673896 18-Aug-2012 01:31
Send private message

Having programmed for over 25 years, I think I can give a sufficiently bigoted and biased opinion here. heh.

Then again, having paused for thought.. as mentioned above, Javascript, in combination with some CSS and HTML, can give a fast payback for some tinkering with semi-forgiving code. Its a richly rewarding object-oriented world right there in your browser, and there are very nice libraries of awesomeness you can add in, such as jQuery, along with 2D graphics support if you want to start out simple with say a platform scroller game using sprites and such.

One thing I am not sure about tho is how easy it would be for a beginner to get their head around server-side and client-side aspects, and how to grasp the browser-of-choice debugging features; whether a problem arose in the HTML, the JS or the CSS can be tricky.

Moving out of the browser, I would probably direct an enthusiast toward C#, which can be used on Linux etc. with MonoDevelop or on Win* with the free Visual C# Express tools. This is more complex, e.g. strongly typed etc, than Javascript, but maybe there is more introductory documentation available, once one learns enough to ask the right questions on google.

p.s. If I stepped aside totally from what my employers require me to use, I would probably spend a lot of time messing with Python and some of the many many libraries available for it. But thats outside of my current area of expertise, it just looks cool, is all.

Les F.


5 posts

Wannabe Geek


  # 673902 18-Aug-2012 03:55
Send private message

I'm totally agree with LesF.
I didn't said about C# cause I thinks it can be slightly boring for the kid.
In browser you can see some nice wow-effects using jQuery... it's a good motivation in my opinion.

But yeah C# is great option.

Dev from Russia =)

674 posts

Ultimate Geek

  # 673913 18-Aug-2012 07:42
Send private message

Try this:
It is a programming language designed for kids to learn with.

Being a 15 year old I am exactly the same: Minecraft, Mods for Minecraft, My Minecraft Server, Making Videos about Minecraft with my friends (On Skype).

I have found that the Raspberry Pi was a great investment on my part. I am creating bash scripts and running cron jobs. I am having fun!!!! The $55 was worth it.

I hope this is a good path.

Morgan French-Stagg



3369 posts

Uber Geek


  # 673914 18-Aug-2012 07:45
Send private message

Can't have a thread like this without logo:

Giving me flashbacks to my own childhood ;-)  (though maybe better for slightly younger kids)


923 posts

Ultimate Geek


  # 673955 18-Aug-2012 11:11
Send private message

One important aspect that is often missed when asking for language/environment advice for a learner, is information on the more theoretical side of programming - data structures and algorithms.

I remember when I first learnt programming in BASIC many many moons ago, I felt constrained and directionless until I finally learnt about advanced data structures and algorithms. Admittedly, much later and in a slightly more useful language.

Unfortunately, I can't recommend any online source of information, as I'm personally not aware of any - but I'm sure there are many!

For a paper resource, I always fall back on recommending K&R The C Programming Language.


1815 posts

Uber Geek

  # 673965 18-Aug-2012 13:10
Send private message

If the goal is to create a game then there are lots of packages around that let you do this in an object oriented way. These can be good for teaching OO principles and logic without getting bogged down with the low-level stuff. You could try something like GameMaker

1304 posts

Uber Geek

  # 674005 18-Aug-2012 16:15
Send private message

I introduced my daughter to code at age 3 but when she got really serious about programming in her teens she quickly got bored. This may seem way out there, but the online resource that kept her interest up was

I know the site gets a lot of criticism for being a hackers training ground. I was worried about her involvement at first, but keeping in mind that hacking isn't necessarily cracking, the challenges there kept her motivated and learning. 

It's worth bookmarking for when you kids hit that, "this is getting a bit too easy/boring" phase.

Also worth noting, there are some good books around for beginners, leading to them writing apps for mobile devices. One online learning resource is:
Some kids get hooked more easily into wanting to get into serious programming if they can see results fairly quickly.

1551 posts

Uber Geek


  # 674047 18-Aug-2012 18:14
Send private message

sidefx: Can't have a thread like this without logo:

Giving me flashbacks to my own childhood ;-)  (though maybe better for slightly younger kids)

Smallbasic does Logo as well :D

Create new topic

Twitter and LinkedIn »

Follow us to receive Twitter updates when new discussions are posted in our forums:

Follow us to receive Twitter updates when news items and blogs are posted in our frontpage:

Follow us to receive Twitter updates when tech item prices are listed in our price comparison site:

News »

Intel introduces cryogenic control chip to enable quantum computers
Posted 10-Dec-2019 21:32

Vodafone 5G service live in four cities
Posted 10-Dec-2019 08:30

Samsung Galaxy Fold now available in New Zealand
Posted 6-Dec-2019 00:01

NZ company oDocs awarded US$ 100,000 Dubai World Expo grant
Posted 5-Dec-2019 16:00

New Zealand Rugby Selects AWS-Powered Analytics for Deeper Game Insights
Posted 5-Dec-2019 11:33

IMAGR and Farro bring checkout-less supermarket shopping to New Zealand
Posted 5-Dec-2019 09:07

Wellington Airport becomes first 5G connected airport in the country
Posted 3-Dec-2019 08:42

MetService secures Al Jazeera as a new weather client
Posted 28-Nov-2019 09:40

NZ a top 10 connected nation with stage one of ultra-fast broadband roll-out completed
Posted 24-Nov-2019 14:15

Microsoft Translator understands te reo Māori
Posted 22-Nov-2019 08:46

Chorus to launch Hyperfibre service
Posted 18-Nov-2019 15:00

Microsoft launches first Experience Center worldwide for Asia Pacific in Singapore
Posted 13-Nov-2019 13:08

Disney+ comes to LG Smart TVs
Posted 13-Nov-2019 12:55

Spark launches new wireless broadband "Unplan Metro"
Posted 11-Nov-2019 08:19

Malwarebytes overhauls flagship product with new UI, faster engine and lighter footprint
Posted 6-Nov-2019 11:48

Geekzone Live »

Try automatic live updates from Geekzone directly in your browser, without refreshing the page, with Geekzone Live now.

Support Geekzone »

Our community of supporters help make Geekzone possible. Click the button below to join them.

Support Geezone on PressPatron

Are you subscribed to our RSS feed? You can download the latest headlines and summaries from our stories directly to your computer or smartphone by using a feed reader.

Alternatively, you can receive a daily email with Geekzone updates.