CodeCombat

 
(i)

 

Learning(i)

Defeat enemies with your newly learned programming skills.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

In this a cartoony hack-and-slash game, the coding challenges focus on combat. For some, the emphasis on killing bad guys instead of on teamwork or other positive themes might not translate as appealing.

Positive role models

As a swords-and-sorcery title, CodeCombat sticks close to the good-versus-evil script. Why do these characters fight? It's never clear. But you assume the other side has it coming. 

Ease of play

The walkthrough of tutorial levels makes learning the basics easy. But, as the challenges increase, so does the complexity of the code. Although the game offers plenty of tips, tricks, and debug hints, teens might find more advanced levels too hard without some extra help.

Violence

A funny cartoon style hides the fact that this game is fundamentally about killing other cartoon characters.

Sex
Not applicable
Language

Technically, teens can program the on-screen characters to say naughty things, but nothing in the game encourages (or prohibits) this kind of behavior.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Players are encouraged to sign up with Facebook or Google Plus to share their accomplishments on this site, so be aware that younger players could use these platforms to connect with other players.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that CodeCombat is a Web-based swords-and-sorcery game in which players explore and use programming languages to win. Using JavaScript commands and a timeline, players command their on-screen warriors into action, making them move around, engage in battle, and blast cannons. Keep in mind that the game may frustrate players with little programming experience or those in need of quick answers to programming questions; as a result, some tweens may find that this game is a bit too advanced for them. By using logic, players will win each level. If you write buggy code or fail to learn how to create more elegant programming solutions, your warriors will wander about aimlessly until they're destroyed. As a result, teens need to invest in lots of trial and error (and some code study) if they expect to win.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Arts

  • playing

Hobbies

  • building

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • logic
  • problem solving
  • solving puzzles
  • strategy
  • thinking critically
  • applying information
  • decision-making
  • defining problems
  • hypothesis-testing

Creativity

  • combining knowledge

Self-Direction

  • achieving goals

Emotional Development

  • persevering

Communication

  • asking questions

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology
  • digital creation

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Using streamlined JavaScript commands to program game characters makes it easy to get started. High-quality graphics make it feel like you're modifying a real game. Challenging puzzles keep players experimenting to find the best way to wipe out enemy ogres.

Learning Approach

Although there are plenty of code games as well as games that let you code, CodeCombat provides a unique hybrid. It challenges players to write code snippets to control on-screen characters to complete specific goals. The coding turns into the game, which is all about procedural problem solving and merrily destroying the sword-toting enemies.

Support

As an Open Source project, CodeCombat depends on its community to support the user. At this point in the game's development, that community is developing momentum, and support can seem a bit thin. Questions to forums get answered, but documentation on the ins and outs of the surprisingly deep programming can leave a newcomer feeling overwhelmed.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Arts

  • playing

Hobbies

  • building

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • logic
  • problem solving
  • solving puzzles
  • strategy
  • thinking critically
  • applying information
  • decision-making
  • defining problems
  • hypothesis-testing

Creativity

  • combining knowledge

Self-Direction

  • achieving goals

Emotional Development

  • persevering

Communication

  • asking questions

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology
  • digital creation

Kids can learn the fundamental principles of coding by writing scripts to control on-screen characters. By doing so, they'll complete levels of challenging code, combat, and puzzles. This learn-by-doing approach helps keep kids motivated and shows them how a little code can go a long way. Eventually, though, gameplay can get complex, and kids might need some help, which is OK; even the best programmers need help from time to time with elaborate code. Fortunately, there's some help available through the game's forums. As a whole, CodeCombat is a great way to get kids thinking about computer programming.

This Learning Rating review was written by David Thomas

What's it about?

Set in a medieval land of knights, ogres, wizards, and warriors, CODECOMBAT skips most of the mythical narrative to get right to the task at hand: defeating your opponent. Players write short JavaScript programs that instruct characters on where to talk, what to do, and when to fight. Learning to code new behaviors makes the player more effective, whereas simply writing scripts that send warriors screaming into battle usually ends up in a messy loss.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

At its best, CodeCombat integrates JavaScript coding so effortlessly that players will be coding before they know it. But, without some coding background or support, the levels can get difficult faster than necessary, which will discourage players. This puts CodeCombat in an interesting position: It may motivate kids to want to learn more about computer programming, but it also might lead them to believe that coding is just too hard beyond a certain point. The safe bet is to send new CodeCombat players into battle with the support of a technical parent or teacher, ready to aid.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how programmers create the behavior of characters in video games such as CodeCombat. Do you think it's easy to create unique traits for characters in games? How easy would it be to change these characteristics once you learn how to program?

  • How does solving a problem, such as beating a game level, force you to approach it in separate parts? Can this apply to every problem, or are there some things that can't be broken into pieces?

Game details

Platforms:Mac, Windows
Pricing structure:Free
Available online?Available online
Developer:CodeCombat
Release date:June 8, 2014
Genre:Educational
Topics:Magic and fantasy, Adventures

This review of CodeCombat was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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