Kodu Game Lab

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Kodu Game Lab Game Poster Image
Innovative game creator is powerful but hard to learn.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 2+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

When kids learn to program, they must grasp a large array of challenging and interlocking concepts. By focusing on only a subset of programming ideas, Kodu introduces some of the basics and does so through gaming. Linking objects (things in the game) and events (actions), Kodu can lead to a surprisingly broad range of creations. For example, kids can select a rover object and attach an event to it so whenever a specific arrow key is pressed, the rover moves forward. Bingo: the first small step is programmed. It's a satisfying -- albeit a bit difficult -- and instantly gratifying entrance into game-making.

Positive Messages

Fosters creativity and a spirit of sharing.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Since you design your own games, there's potential for both positive and negative role models.

Ease of Play

This application is not very user-friendly. Players essentially learn how to use a basic game-design application, which means most of their time will be spent learning the software's features and rules. There aren't any interactive tutorials; players must navigate radial menus reading pop-up descriptions for each tool. Much patience is required.

Violence

Nonhuman "bot" characters can be programmed to do things such as shoot missiles, throw rocks, and kick objects. These characters typically disappear in a puff of smoke when defeated.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Kodu is a game-design application. It's found in the Xbox Live user community and is available for download through the online Xbox marketplace or as a free download for the PC through the Microsoft website. The visual-development environment allows players to create their own games from simple snap-together parts, which means the content can vary. That said, options are limited to what's built into the software. For example, players can make "bots" that kick, shoot missiles, and throw rocks, but they can't alter how these projectiles explode or make characters spurt blood. However, there's nothing stopping a player from, say, designing a piece of virtual land that resembles a human body part. Completed levels can be shared with people on your friends list on Xbox Live whereas PC levels are available to share and download online.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byacheeseberger June 19, 2013

Kodu Game Lab teachings game design/programming skills

Kodu Game Lab is also a free download on Windows computers. On the Kodu website, there are tons of other tutorials, demos, and even lesson plans to help player... Continue reading
Parent of a 1, 7, 7, 7, and 9 year old Written byBWD October 15, 2009

Better than CSM Review

Unlike the CSM review, I did find a tutorial...essentially a set of objectives that slowly teach you different ways to build and modify pre-existing games. My... Continue reading
Kid, 9 years old December 8, 2013

WOW

Great game, when you learn how to do it, it is so easy.

What's it about?

KODU GAME LAB isn't a game so much as a tool for making video games. Downloadable from the Xbox user community and online for the PC, Kodu provides players with the ability to design their own environments, create simple objectives (which could include racing, shooting, or adventuring), and alter a surprisingly wide variety of game parameters, such as the behavior of environmental objects and nonplayer characters. Dozens of starter levels are available for experimentation, and many have simple objectives meant to help you figure out what can be done with the software, such as making a character move from one location to another or jump a gap. When you've tinkered enough and have something you think might be fun for others to try, you can share it with friends on Xbox Live or upload to the Kodu site, where other would-be developers can download these interactive creations.

Is it any good?

The simplest way to describe Kodu is to say it offers the same sort of game-making functionality as LittleBigPlanet 2 for PlayStation 3 but with little of the polish or accessibility that made that game so fun and popular. Limited tutorials and text instruction mean it can be slow to get in the swing of things. All the tools have pop-up bubbles that describe what they do, but they must be manually selected to make those bubbles appear, which makes the learning process long and arduous. It's a little like teaching yourself how to play the guitar; it's possible, but it requires plenty of patience and passion. There's no question that it's a powerful and educational game-making toolkit, but we recommend it only for those who have a strong desire to dabble in Xbox game design and are willing to spend several hours learning the ropes.

Regarding online interaction, players can play the games they make with people who appear in their Xbox friends list, but no random strangers are allowed.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what a career in the game industry might be like. Did Kodu make you think you may have a knack for game design? What kind of training, skills, and talents should aspiring game makers try to develop? What sort of a role would you like to play in a game's development? Artist? Level designer? Character designer? Game designer? Director? Do you think the game industry will still have the same sorts of jobs in 10 or 20 years?

Game details

For kids who love building games

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