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Metro NY - Brooklyn designer’s board game, Code Monkey Island, teaches programming basics
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That's it - the $30,000 stretch goal has been reached! The Code Monkey Island Explorer's Guide booklet is a go!!!
The Explorer's Guide is a 10-page, educational booklet that explains how the concepts introduced in Code Monkey Island are used in real programming! Written in a way that both kids and adults can easily understand, the Explorer's Guide uses simple examples to help kids make the leap from the mechanics they used to win the game to real programming syntax and application.
Now that you've helped us reach our stretch goal, we'll include a copy of the Explorer's Guide in every single copy of Code Monkey Island that's produced.
Thank you SO much for your continued support! Let's do this thing!
In today's world, programming is becoming one of the most important skills for students and professionals to have. And programming isn't just for programmers - even for designers like myself, knowing how to program is almost a requirement to keep up with the tools we use and build every day.
Already, countries like England, Finland, and Estonia have made programming part of the core curriculum for elementary school students, and in the past year alone, incredible tools have been built (and funded by platforms like Kickstarter!) to help teach very young children how to think like programmers.
I wanted to pick up where those tools left off, and create a crazy fun, family-friendly board game that could help kids ages 8 and up learn real programming concepts used by real programmers. Enter Code Monkey Island!
Because board games bring families together, and because learning together is the best way to learn! I wanted to create an experience that kids, parents, and grandparents could share, and in the process allow children to exercise their immense learning capabilities through play.
What is Code Monkey Island?
Code Monkey Island is a board game designed for families. It takes about a minute to learn the rules and 45 minutes to play, and exposes kids to fundamental programming concepts like control structures, data structures, Boolean logic and operators, and assignment and mathematical operations.
What I realized almost immediately while prototyping and testing this game was that kids are way, way smarter than we give them credit for. Code Monkey Island presents seemingly complex concepts in a way that kids and adults can effortlessly apply, within minutes of playing!
Will my kids be able to write their first program after playing?
Code Monkey Island doesn't teach kids how to write programs - rather, it helps them master the logic constructs that are used in virtually every program that's ever been written. Familiarizing kids with these concepts at such a young age will be hugely helpful as they go on to learn real programming languages in school!
What's your story?
I'm a designer and developer from New York City. I studied computer science and recorded music at NYU, and for the past year I've been working as an interaction designer for an awesome startup. Once the idea for Code Monkey Island popped into my head, I knew I had to give it everything I had to make it a reality.
Step 1: Each player chooses their favorite tribe of monkeys, and sets them down in the corresponding Start Circle.
Step 2: Everyone is dealt 3 Rule cards.
Step 3: On their turn, a player draws 1 Rule card, and plays another card from their hand to move their monkeys forward.
Step 4: The first player to get all 3 of their monkeys around the island and into the banana grove wins!
There are 12 plastic monkey figurines in total: 3 red, 3 blue, 3 green, and 3 yellow. Each player becomes the wise leader of their own tribe of monkeys, and it's their job to guide them safely around the island!
Players use Rule cards to move their monkeys forward based on the position of the other monkeys on the board. There are two basic types of Rule cards: Check and Count.
Check cards present the player with a conditional statement - if that conditional statement is true, then they get to move forward!
Count cards ask the player to see how many times the condition on the card is true, then to move forward: for each time the condition is true, while the condition is true, or until the condition is true.
The board is a 20"x20" island, made up of different types of geography and wildlife. There are 3 types of normal tiles (tree, vine, and rock), and 3 types of special squares (fruit, quicksand, and animals).
Players must race their monkeys around the island and up their tribe's color-coded paths and into the banana grove.
When a monkey lands in quicksand, it becomes stuck for 1 round! Players must move their monkeys strategically to avoid these traps.
There are plenty of animal friends along the path to the banana grove who can give you boosts! When one of your monkeys lands on an animal tile, draw an animal card, and then set it down in front of you. The card will show a number, which the animal tile will "store" for you (and only you!). The next time one of your monkeys lands on that same animal tile, your animal buddy will give you a boost equal to the number it's been assigned!
When a player lands on a fruit square, they get to draw a fruit card! They can either play it immediately or save it for later. Fruit cards give players special boosts and bonuses!
All pledgers who donate more than $60 get a complimentary pack of the Super Fruits Mini Game! This fast-paced mini game introduces kids ages 8 and up to the basics of data structures. And since each round takes less than a minute, you can play for as long as you like! Play a few rounds between longer gaming sessions, or make a night out of it and see who can score the most points.
The Great Monkey King calls for tribute, and it's up to the wise leaders of Code Monkey Island to fulfill his extravagant requests. Each player must carefully manage their fruit stores, and must understand how fruits are added and taken out to give the King what he demands - and in the order he demands it! Fruits are added and removed from the player's reserves continuously, so they must be careful not to let their stores overflow and rot, or else the King will punish them for their wastefulness!
The player who uses the least amount of fruit trying to match the King's sequence is the winner. In the process, they'll have learned the difference between the way that data flows in and out of stacks and queues and the importance of avoiding stack overflow.
Five new fruits are discovered in this game, including tart pomegranates, creamy avocados, refreshing kiwanos, delicious lychees, and sweet kiwis!
The Super Fruits Mini Game consists of 60 exotic fruit cards and 20 tribute cards. It will be individually packaged and shipped along with your copy of Code Monkey Island!
When I started thinking about how to design an educational game for kids, I quickly realized that trying to cram everything related to programming into a single game was impossible.
Instead, I decided to group concepts together into separate games tailored to specific age ranges. Code Monkey Island introduces kids to the fundamentals of programming logic, which are shared across all modern programming languages:
Together with loops, conditional statements form the foundations of programming control structures. With Check cards, kids learn how to employ if/then and if/else statements to achieve one of several outcomes.
Another one of the foundations of control structures, loops allow programmers to perform the same action multiple times without having to do extra work! With Count cards, kids learn basic looping such as: for, while, and until loops.
Code Monkey Island relies on players deciding whether something is true or false, and experiencing different outcomes in each case. Boolean Logic is a simple but incredibly important concept for programmers!
Knowing the difference between “When x is true AND when y is true”, “When x is true OR y is true”, and “When x is NOT true” is a hugely important logical hurdle to leap. Code Monkey Island makes it child’s play!
Code Monkey Island frequently asks players to assign different values and states to a variety of objects, and then to hold and eventually call that value at the appropriate time.
In the Kickstarter-exclusive Super Fruits mini game, kids learn the difference between the stack and the queue, how to add and remove elements from each, and the importance of avoiding stack overflow!
Here's a (hopefully thorough!) explanation of each rewards tier - if anything is left unclear, please leave a message in the comments section and I'll get back to you as soon as I can!
$30 - Tropical Early Bird
The early bird gets the game - and for $10 off retail! You'll get 1 copy of Code Monkey Island hot off the presses the moment they're ready. The game includes the island game board, all 80 playing cards, and 12 monkey figurines!
Shipping is FREE if you live in the U.S. - for international addresses, please add $25.
$40 - Code Monkey Island
Missed the early bird? No worries, you still get free shipping and your very own complete copy of Code Monkey Island!
$60 - Code Monkey Island + Kickstarter-Exclusive Super Fruits Mini Game
In addition to your complete copy of Code Monkey Island, we'll also be sending you a copy of the Kickstarter-exclusive Super Fruits Mini Game! This mini-game won't be sold in stores, so you'll be one of the few proud owners of this super fun, crazy fast-paced card game!
The Super Fruits mini game consists of 80 cards in total, and will be sent in its own unique packaging along with your copy of Code Monkey Island.
$100 - Signed copy of Code Monkey Island and Super Fruits + 3D Printed Monkey King Piece
Thank you so much for your donation! The rewards for this tier are awesome. I'll send you a signed copy of both games addressed to your child(ren), as well as another Kickstarter-exclusive treat: I'll commission the same 3D designer who produced our incredible monkey pieces to do a completely custom rendering of the Great Monkey King!
I'll 3D print and hand paint this piece - you can use it as a game piece for Super Fruits, as a trophy for the winner of each round of Code Monkey Island, or in any other way you see fit!
$400 - Monkey Pack
The rewards package designed for generous individuals! Thank you so, so much for your support - we couldn't pull this off without your help.
You'll get a signed, personal copy of Code Monkey Island + Super Fruits, the Great Monkey King piece, as well as 9 extra copies of Code Monkey Island to give to friends, schools, and charities as you please.
Inspired by your generosity, I'll also be donating a copy of Code Monkey Island to an elementary school in the U.S. for each Monkey Pack that's claimed!
$500 - Monkey Pack + Programming Lesson
Get everything in the Monkey Pack, as well as a 1-on-1 programming lesson with me! We'll schedule a time at your convenience, and walk through the basics of writing your first functioning program! We can meet over video chat, or in person if you're a local to NYC.
$1000 - Monkey Pack + Programming Lesson + Game Night
I can't thank you enough for your generosity, so instead I'll treat you to an awesome day in the Big Apple (in addition to everything from the previous tier)! We'll work out an itinerary of the coolest places, activities, and restaurants you've wanted to experience in New York City, and we'll spend a day together knocking them off the list. Afterwards, my friends and I will take you out for an awesome dinner, then head down to our local board game shop for game night!
We'll arrange everything together at your convenience - can't wait to meet you, and thanks again for your support!
Please note: you'll have to arrange your own transportation and accommodation (although I'll certainly give you my best recommendations!).
Risks and challenges
I spent a long time looking for the perfect manufacturer for Code Monkey Island, and after reading a few excellent reviews of a company called WinGo Games, I decided to reach out. Within our first few emails, I knew that they were the best company for the job. They have an excellent track record, a huge array of games under their belts, and are dedicated to making sure that they make the highest quality games they can.
However, nothing is set in stone until I get confirmation that the game has made it to your doorstep! Manufacturing and quality assurance SHOULDN'T take more than about a month and a half, and I'll be working day and night to make sure we stay on schedule, but this is my first time manufacturing something so there might be unforeseen challenges that crop up.
Needless to say, I will do my level best to ensure that every unit of Code Monkey Island that ship goes through thorough quality assurance and ships on time!
Thank you so much for your support, and please feel free to ask any additional questions you might have in the comments section!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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