Tuesday, 1 July 2014

The children are the future - Ye Gawds Help us :-)

I'm an old bloke these days in the world of computing.

Yet I still recall fondly writing my first game on a Sinclair Spectrum 128+2. A feeble machine by today's standards however I loved that machine - thing was, it wasn't even mine, it was my Brother's.

I had a Yamaha keyboard for my love of music.

Fast forward 25 years and I write software and my brother writes music.

Those early years gave me the seeds to a very fulfilling career in computer programming.
The spectrum was to all intents a gaming computer, in some ways similar to a games console - However unlike a console, it could be programmed.

It came with a built in version of basic and a manual detailing the language. There were also plenty of books at the local library about programming games in basic as well as a host of regularly published magazines - some even with tv commercials attempting to cash in on the wave of interest from enthusiasts.

This pre-internet age was a fertile environment which encouraged experimentation and discovery.

The console age brought amazing games to the kids of the day but ushered in an age where games could not be written at home. There were popular home computers like the Commodore Amiga but even these would fall to the might of the console.

Eventually the PlayStation and Xbox would dominate relegating bedroom programmers to the realm of the pc.

This allowed those with access to a pc and a desire to create all the tools they needed to do so, but what of the kids with only access to a console, their mindset locked into the belief that game development was out of their hands.

Without the understanding that they did in fact have the power if they held the desire to create, they could learn how to program on even the most modest equipment and release a game on a new age of mobile platforms.


Microsoft released XNA, a framework with which developers could write games to run on the XBox360 and be potentially sold in the XBox Live Arcade.

This led to an Indie explosion.

Following on from that, Mobile phone development became more mainstream - people could write games for their phones and tablets on Android and iOS platforms - sure it took more than a hobbyist level of skill, but it was available to those with the ability.

Then all hell broke loose. The Release of Game Engines like Unity with cross platform support meant that developers could use the C# language and make games which ran on almost anything.

Consoles like the OUYA were developed to provide another open platform to make games for.

Microsoft in a fit of short-sightedness killed XNA but the fuse was already lit, developers flocked to the newly created Mono Game - a cross platform XNA implementation.

Frameworks like Cocos2Dx and MOAI sprung up also offering cross platform development.

There's never been a time like this to get the kids into programming.

I only had the Spectrum and library books. The kids today have everything they ever need.

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