Fruit Coder: an app that teaches girls how to code project video thumbnail
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$15,347 pledged of $100,000 goal
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By Pixel Heavy Industries LLC
$15,347 pledged of $100,000 goal
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About

Fruit Coder in 15 Seconds

What it is:

  • A game aimed at girls
  • That will show up under a search for "girl games"
  • That features a girl main character
  • But isn't all "pinked-out" or "simplified"
  • That teaches solid coding principles, like data types and functions, as well as solid coding practices, like test-driven development
  • That has projects that could be replicated in real life, like pinball, plant waterers, and computer vision
  • That will hopefully help solve the 1:4 ratio of women to men in programming
  • That boys can play too

Fruit Coder will be a mobile game aimed specifically at girls, 3rd grade and up, that will teach programming fundamentals in an entertaining and inspiring way. While there are a few apps out there that aim to teach programming, most stop with only a few basic concepts, like functions and if-statements, and don't have a compelling storyline to draw the player in. Featuring a likeable female programmer, Fruit Coder will give girls a role model they can relate to, and give them a sense that they belong in the programming world.

In Basic story mode, players build machines that feed the pets their favorite foods (which will teach flow control, automated tests, for loops, if/else), make sure the pets aren’t eating too many treats (data types, arrays), and let the pets order custom smoothies (functions). Every machine will have a set of automated tests, helping players to approach coding from a test-driven perspective. Players will also occasionally have to get pets unstuck from machines when the pets play hide and seek (refactoring, Boolean logic and operators).  Scroll to the very bottom to see a more detailed description of the gameplay.

Every few levels will unlock part of a comic strip story, as well as a few side games, like an infinite runner game involving gates that are unlocked by flipping boolean operators.

Our first stretch goal is to add Sandbox Mode, where players can collaborate with their friends while applying their programming skills learned from story mode. By making the game social, we feel strongly that the game will reach a lot more players, and hold their attention much better. 

Sandbox mode will be sort of like a 2D version of those 3D mining/crafting games. Players will earn parts and components (like blocks, wheels, motors, sensors, and avatars) as they complete parts of story mode, and will be able to buy more parts using their daily allowance money (obtained by logging in).  

Some players may want to build machines, like cars, pinball tables, or robots, and use scripts to incorporate controls, sensors and displays. Other players may want to animate a movie with their friends, or recreate famous arcade games. Finally, some girls might just want to build interactive spaces for the pets to hang out in, and move their pets around with standard platformer controls.

Sandbox mode will use a drag and drop language, very similar to the machines they've been building in story mode, and sort of like Scratch, but more JavaScript-y (so that players can easily migrate to real-world projects).

In advanced mode, our second stretch goal, Joy must overcome social pressure from a boy at school to quit programming.  Meanwhile, the pets start to feel lonely while Joy is at school, and players must create devices to keep them occupied, by means of a (virtual) development board (like an Arduino or Raspberry Pi).

Concepts covered include 

  • Variable scope 
  • Classes and OOP 
  • Multithreading and thread safety 
  • Value vs reference 
  • How the invention of "goto" inadvertently opened a dimensional portal that caused the extinction of unicorns 

What does "a game for girls" even really mean? And what makes a game "for boys"? After all, girls play everything from RPG's to FPS's and everything in between. So we define a "girl game" as this: a game, featuring a female main character (which really shouldn't be all that uncommon, but is), that the majority of girls would find appealing, and that shows up in the "girl aisle" of most app stores.  In other words, it's not about how many boys we exclude, it's about how many girls we make sure to tailor it to first. And after that, we hope every boy in the world enjoys it too. Because we want everyone to learn code, we just want to make sure that girls aren't missed in the process.

Risks and challenges

We’re not concerned about our ability to deliver the app: Kyall has shipped a game in Unity, and even wrote an extension plugin for Unity 4.3. Stefan has been writing native mobile apps professionally for years. Furthermore, the game itself is really pretty simple from an implementation perspective, with no fancy physics or crazy special effects to eat all our time.

One risk, however, revolves around making complex concepts simple. We learned from shipping Cookie Munchers that it can take a lot of iterations to get instructions boiled down to where they are both clear and concise. We’ve got 6 months slated for user acceptance testing, but if it’s not enough, the schedule may slip. However, you as a backer will be along for the ride, offering feedback and telling us how we can make the verbiage and concepts more clear.

The bigger risk is probably player awareness. Games that teach programming skills are an emerging genre, meeting a need that we are only beginning to realize is out there, and we’ll need your help in making people aware that games like this are even a thing. The good news is that major news outlets like Popular Science, BBC, and USA Today have covered other games in the genre, so major news coverage may be a possibility, especially if you can help us build buzz about it on social media.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    Blueberry

    You're helping change the face of programming by teaching girls (and boys) how to code. Our eternal gratitude! Since Fruit Coder will be free-to-play, this is almost like pre-ordering a copy of the game! Your name will appear in the credits, and you'll receive updates as development progresses.

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Raspberry

    All of the $1 goodness, plus an awesome downloadable papercraft model of Joy.

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    12 backers
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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Strawberry

    All previous rewards + Help make the game all it can be with access to the private backer forum. Offer feedback and help shape the game!

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Kiwi

    All previous rewards + beta access to the game! (note, pre-launch versions will be desktop browser-based, and will require a PC or Mac capable of running Unity in a browser)

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    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    Peach

    All previous rewards, plus alpha access to the game. Help make the game easy to learn and play! (note, pre-launch versions will be desktop browser-based, and will require a PC or Mac capable of running Unity in a browser)

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Grapefruit

    All previous rewards + A cartoon version of you in sandbox mode! (if we make stretch goal)

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Honeydew

    All previous rewards + An extremely limited edition 4-inch 3D-printed model of Joy via Shapeway's sandstone printing process.

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    Limited 3 backers
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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Watermelon

    All previous rewards + A cartoon version of you somewhere in story mode (a picture on Joy's desk, a statue in a park, etc)

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    2 backers
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Funding period

- (30 days)