Written by Sequoia Abbott-Saulteaux
When I was in grade ten I remember getting one of my first android phones after breaking (more than I’d like to admit) some old flip phones and Nokia’s over the years. One of the biggest things that I remember about smartphones was being amazed at how many more apps, games, and customization options were available. I remember handheld Nokia phones that could only play chime ringtones and low resolution Snake games. When I got my first smartphone, I spent hours customizing the theme, adding different songs for ringtones, downloading apps and games. The games popular among my friend group at the time were “Survival Run with Bear Grylls” (even though I’ve never watched the show), “BrickBreaker”, “Trivia Crack”, and “Fruit Ninja”. Of course, that is until Flappy Bird came out.
When Flappy Bird first came out it was huge among me and my friends. I remember we would spent lunch breaks and spares competing over which person could get the little yellow bird to fly through the most amount of mario tunnels without hitting them or the ground. The records would sometimes even go past one hundred if one person got into the groove enough without distractions. I was never particularly good at the game, my expertise was Survival Run, but I think that my highest was always around 40. Not that this fact ever made me less determined to play the game. We spent a lot of good times competing over app store games.
Even though Flappy Bird had a relatively short run with almost a year in app store, and could be incredibly frustrating, I remember Flappy Bird quite fondly. After hearing about Flappy Bird leaving the app store, I remember my friend group playing it less and less. I kept the game on my phone until I cracked the screen around a year and a half later.
Imagine my surprise when I was introduced to the world of coding through my educational technology course, and there I see that little yellow bird again!
In this week of my #edtc course, we were encouraged to participate in an “Hour of Coding”, a free resource from Code.org that offers over 500+ tutorials activities for all ages! I was extremely intimidated before starting since I thought that computer coding was for geniuses that specialized in science and math. Since I major in both english and social studies, I was worried that maybe this wouldn’t be “my thing”. Thankfully, as soon as I saw that little yellow bird I warmed up a little and decided to just dive on in.
The tutorial was very good at putting these complex codes into building blocks into understanding. The coding is covered with labeled blocks that make it very easy to understand the method behind coding. Each block must go in a specific place for the game to play correctly. In level one, you start off with one block “when click”, and then you drag a block from the bank, in this case “flap” and place it under the first block. The you can try it out in the game. If done correctly, the little bird will flap every time you click the mouse. In the video below, you can see what the game looks like when you follow the correct sequence for step number one.
The more levels that I passed, the more confidence I grew in my abilities to code! Maybe this wasn’t as hard as I always thought it was… Not only that, but the more levels that I passed, the more overall fun it was. By the fourth level, I figured out that you could change the sound the little yellow bird makes when it flaps its wings! You could also choose “random” and the sound changes every time you click the mouse (or make the bird flap its wings). I was surprised by the level of customization since I thought that the game only allowed you to recreate Flappy Bird. By the time that I got to level eight, I could change the speed of the birds flapping, play different sounds when the wings flapped, change the speed level of the game, and change the background for everytime it passed an obstacle! I thought it was pretty cool, so I added another video clip at the bottom to show the background changes!
When I reached the end of the game, which was 10 levels and took me just under an hour, I had fully customized the entire game. It was now an underwater shark swimming game that made a “splash” sound everytime you clicked the mouse. The shark swam swam “fast” underwater with “normal” gravity, and dodged lasers, scoring points every time it made it past one. I was able to customize the background to “Underwater” and the ground to “Cave” leading to a great atmosphere. The really cool thing about the game is that I was also able to share it afterwards and play it on my phone! It was a really nostalgic feeling to play Flappy Bird again, even more though I had a feeling of accomplishment from finishing my very own game. They also provided a certificate afterwards, which was nice.
All, in all, I am really glad that I decided to try an hour of coding. It turned out to be a lot easier, and a lot more fun than I thought. I can see this being a great tool to introduce students into coding, especially since with the over 500 tutorials, there is something for every grade. I highly recommend that everyone try at least an hour of coding, if you’re intimidated, you can always start easy, like me, and see how you like it!
Try out my Flappy Shark Game below!
So far my high score is 11.
Have you ever tried coding before? Why or why not?