Here’s one problem with the current state of cool smartphone technology. Most people only know how to use it, not how to create it. That’s the idea behind the fun and – dare I say it – educational game, Light Robot. It teaches the very basics of computer programming, now often called “software development” or casually “coding”. Don’t worry, it’s such a good time, you won’t know you’re actually gaining knowledge.
The goal of the game sounds simple – move the robot around the grid and light up all the blue tiles. But, like any good puzzle, it’s easier said than done. The robot stands mindlessly until you tell it what to do by dragging and dropping little action tiles onto a “to do” list. The actions include Jump, Move Forward, Turn Right, Turn Left, Switch on Light, etc. You must put the instructions in the proper sequence to solve the puzzle.
The game starts easily with just one blue tile to light up, but then progresses evenly to become quite challenging with multiple blue tiles arranged across maze-like stacked cubes. The app also includes the programming concept of sub-routines where you can describe one sequence of instructions and re-use it just by calling the sub-routine rather than re-writing all of the steps within it.
I had a great time playing and think both kids and adults will enjoy it. My only complaint was that on a small screen Android device, accurately dragging and dropping the action tiles was difficult. I sometimes had to tap several times to put tiles where I wanted.
All in all, it’s a good start to learning how to create your own mobile app.