Monkeys competing over bananas can teach children the logic behind basic computer programming. Raj Sidhu is demonstrating that with his board game, Code Monkey Island.
In a world that revolves around code, programming knowledge isn’t just for geeks anymore. These are skills that have become as necessary as reading, writing and arithmetic.
Code Monkey Island introduces kids to basic programming concepts. Rules like, “If a monkey is on a tree and a rock, move 10 spaces” teaches Boolean operations. Along with data structures and mathematical operations, these are some of the logic constructs used in almost every computer code ever written. Understanding them, even at the most basic level, improves problem-solving and thinking skills – tools that are fundamental to success in any kind of business.
Sidhu learned about board game creation and marketing almost entirely from online forums. Code Monkey Island is the 23-year-old’s first project. He left a job as a designer with the popular invention company Quirky to design board games on his own. He wanted to introduce kids to the basics of programming and attract their interest with a format they already know and love – games.
For the 45 minutes that it takes to play a game, Code Monkey Island players are the leaders of their own tribe of monkeys. Each player draws cards with instructions on how to move their monkeys around the board. The goal is to move the monkeys safely around the island using a set of what’s called “Rule” cards. These cards give instructions on how to move monkeys forward based on the position of the other members of the same tribe, instructions like “For each monkey in a tree, move 3 spaces.”
Rule cards come in two types. A Check Rule card provides a conditional statement, that, if true, the monkeys can move forward. A Count Rule card allows a player to move their monkeys forward based on a count of how many times the condition on the card is true.
The rules might not be complicated, but they provide knowledge of concepts including adaptation, strategic thinking and application of conditional statements.
Learning complex concepts with cute little monkeys, instead of logic constructs and lines of code, is going to allow anyone to better deal with the overwhelming technology of our world.
Last summer, Code Monkey Island ran a successful Kickstarter campaign, and now has its own website: www.codemonkeyplanet.com