Screenshot of Kodu game-building program
Screenshot of Kodu game-building program

Build games. Play games. Share games.

Kodu is a project of Microsoft Research FUSE Labs that focuses on delivering social, real-time, and media rich experiences for home and work. With a supportive classroom kit for educators, Kodu can be taught by any teacher with no previous programming expertise required. Kodu’s visual programming language lets kids create games on the PC and Xbox 360 Game Controller for input. Kodu can be used to teach creativity, problem solving, storytelling, as well as programming.

Anyone can use Kodu to make a game, including young children and adults with no prior design or programming skills. Students can be taught programming by allowing them have fun creating and playing their own games. Kodu is a visual programming language made specifically for creating games. Rather than a bitmapped or 2D display, programs are executed in a 3D simulation environment, similar to Alice. Kodu Game Lab has also been used as an educational learning tool in selected schools and learning centers, in Malaysia and Singapore.

Keywords / Definitions

  • Simulation:Program that runs on a single or network of computers, that attempts to mimic another system

  • Rule: Where each line of programming is in the form of a condition and an action it

My game, Toxic, is about a city that is getting polluted. You have to go around and collect coins and hearts and jump on buildings and collect things. You help save the city from pollution.
—Hannah Wyman, 11-year-old grand prize winner Kodu Cup 2012

The Kodu language is designed specifically for game development and provides specialized primitives derived from gaming scenarios. Programs are expressed in physical terms, using concepts like vision, hearing, and time to control character behavior. While not as general-purpose as other classical programming languages, Kodu can express advanced game design concepts in a simple, direct, and intuitive manner through predefined rules.

Instead of typing “if/then” statements in a syntax that must be memorized—as adult programmers do—the student uses the Xbox controller to pop up menus that contain options from which to choose. Kodu itself resembles a video game, with a point-and-click interface instead of the thousand-lines-of-text coding tools used by grown-ups. Kodu hackers aren’t just filling in templates; it’s real work. They extend existing games with new scenery, new characters and, most important, new rules.

Kodu was last modified: April 1st, 2014 by Matt Hannigan