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The 21st Century Contributor

instructor helping student at computer tech camp

A Nostalgic Rant

I don’t want to sell you the idea of iD Tech Camp on the iD Tech Camp blog – that’s kind of silly. You’re already here. There’s already something that appeals about this organization – or maybe you just enjoy the color scheme and subject matter of the blog. Maybe you’re a huge fan of my rants… Unlikely, I know.

I don’t want to sell you the idea of iD Tech Camp because I’d rather teach you about where the world of technology is today and where it will be tomorrow. I want you to think about the skills that are necessary for 21st century learners and workers based on the new world of connectivity and digital interactivity that is opening around us. When I was growing up, there were few computers. People with the right kind of eyes could see that the personal computer would soon invade every home. It wasn’t until my early teens that those same innovators saw the early Internet as something of value, something that would change our culture forever.

At the same time, game design was left to the experts – a brilliant few that had both coding and artistic chops, as well as thousands of hours and tons of patience. Luckily, we’ve moved beyond that – way beyond that.

Angry Birds has been downloaded 400 million times and has subsequently spiraled into a billion dollar piece of intellectual property. Billion. With a “B.” Does that seem like an impossible feat for a company with 12 people? But that’s a company – what about the indie developers; the kids?

Minecraft, a PC sandbox creation game, was originally created by a single programmer and now has 15.2 million registered users, almost 4 million of those folks actually paid for the game!

How can this be?

There are more gaming platforms now than ever before. According to VGChartz, over 400 million current generation gaming consoles have been sold on the planet. Additionally, almost 130 million iPhones have been sold and about 50 million iPads by the end of 2011. Android, the main competitor for iOS devices, currently has over 190 million devices in use. This, of course, does not count the countless number of personal computers and laptops, also tremendously capable of gaming. Impressive numbers, right?

The problem with so many devices is that they all need interesting software. A screen is nothing without something interesting to show! Over the years, various screen creators have made different development engines. These starts as very basic SDK’s, or “Software Development Kits.” These kits were incredibly expensive and hard to use. Not only that, but hardware manufacturers only gave the kits to reputable companies, meaning that only a few developers even got a chance to create something great.

Software development has left the hands of the super techies. Now, just about anyone can create an app for the iPhone or an Android device or even a game for the PC or XBox. The point is control – if you imagine it, you should be able to build it. The tools are out there and anything is possible.

So what exactly is the point?

When you read a book to a kid, at some point you want them to realize that they too can craft their own story. When you show a kid some art, at some point you want them to know that they too can paint their own picture. Our world is turning to interactive media – and it’s a user-created universe. It’s time to realize that when you use a piece of software, whether it’s a game, an application, a website, or a cool artsy interactive, at some point you too can create your own vision and make your interactive dreams a reality. It’s not about making money, although that’s can be a welcome side affect. It’s about claiming creative rights and becoming a 21st century contributor.

  • maria barnes

    Hi! We are from PA.We’ve got boys – 11 yr old and a 12 yr old who wants to attend a course about sandbox games this coming summer of 2012?