GameGrid: Game programming with Java

Research project PHBern  

Didactic goals

Research shows that only few students decide to start a career in engineering or natural science. This reflects the current deficit of qualified employees in the technical working areas.

The goal of this project is to support and boost the technical and computer orientated subjects in middle, high and grammar school. Our strategy is to spark interest in engineering and its use by working with current and motivating topics for students in its teens. Since gaming is one of the big interests of teenagers today, students are lead to object-orienteted thinking by developing their own computer games. The idea of this project is not to increase the gaming activity of the students, but to introduce them to designing and developing their own programs and to support their computing skills. To most people programming appears to be an abstract, complex, mechanical and lonesome activity. We use the interest in gaming to change the appearance of computer engineering into an exciting, creative and mentally challenging occupation which enhances the dynamic thinking in complex and time based cycles. Students gain the ability to solve undetermined problems and to work in a linked environment. To achieve this, a powerful programming language is needed. Java fits the need to develop games and simulations perfectly.

Our learning environment Game programming with Java uses the software tools of Java to develop games without any knowledge of computer programming and is set up in a way that it can be used for teaching immediately. It is build on the experiences from our previous reseacrh project Lego-Robotics and Turtle-Graphics with Java. Each user can use our Online-Editor and Online-Compiler to design, develop and complie her or his program online without having to install Java SDK and any development environment including the necessary class libraries. This allows teachers to use our learning environment for even a short teaching period with only a small amout of preparation time. Further more it enables programming rookies an easy start and with its advanced and complex scenarios including elements of artificial intelligent it is still interesting for advanced programmers.

An important part of our learning environment are the specially chosen and fully runnable examples. The range of examples reaches from basic programming techniques to complex applications using artifical intelligent. Our developing system offers almost unlimited possibilities in programming for advanced programmers studying at grammar school or even college or university. Each Java class library can be importet and used.

Computer games cannot be left out when looking at digital media today. Their fast technical progress, as well as their high acceptance by the youth, computer games become more and more interesting for educational scientists. Research of their didactical use in school is a growing field. Already today Game-Based Learning is part of school's daily routine. Our project which looks at computer games from the developers perspective can be an interesting and motivating addition.

The research project Technikförderung durch Spielprogrammierung (Progress in engineering through game programming) is sponsored since February 2nd 2010 for two years by the committee of research and progress of PHBern.