Tech Advice for My Two Boys

Updated on January 02, 2012
K.A. asks from Blue Bell, PA
7 answers

Hey mamas and Happy New Year to you all

I have two boys ages 8 and 10. They are very smart and creative. They are also tech savvy and serious video gamers. My question to you is how can I help them reach their full potential in this area. I'm thinking big like grooming them to be "the next tech guru" of their generation . I'm primarily interested in them learning how to create their own video games and learning all about the gaming industry as well as learning more about electronics and computers. Where do I start? Who could teach them? For you technical engineers/engineers out there, any ideas? How do they get started? Are there books out there, courses they could take online or at a university or something? Can someone help me out. Any advice or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance.

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answers from St. Louis on

I must warn you tech savvy tends to be a perception. I do programming, nothing exciting, readable languages. My son wanted to design video games so I gave him some of my books. No, I want to tell someone what the game should do and they do all the code.

Yeah, not going to happen sweetie.

Just because someone likes video games and knows more than you doesn't mean they have what it takes to code a game.

What I would start with is a website. Most have skins that they can start off with then they can go under the hood and tweak things. If that doesn't get them hooked nothing will.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Yep well, my Husband as well, like Jennifer H. below said, my Husband teaches both my kids, who are 5 & 9, about computers/tech things/making video movies themselves, etc.
They can start at any age.
My Husband is tech savy and it a Tech guy, anyway.
But my kids both learn computer things in school, too.

Look online for free "lessons."
Google search it.
Or enroll them in classes for kids.
Ask an Apple store, if they have classes for kids.

To create Video games, you need the software & applications to do it.
These can cost a lot of money. And there are many types.
So you have a lot to research.
Or if you know anyone with tech knowledge locally, then ask them.

Using an Apple/Mac computer, is great for these things. That is what many Developers use themselves. Because, many of the apps, are for the iPhone/iPad etc.

To make games for apps... you also need to pay. It is a many faceted and multi-pronged process.

I suggest, signing them up in a class.
There is just SOOOOO much to know and learn, to do computer programming and development for games.
And yes, it is very technical.
But yes, kids can learn. Just like adults.
And it takes learning it from many sources. Books, classes, and experimenting yourself.

Look into your local area, for classes.
And have your kids, along with you, research it. Because, that is how they will learn.... along with their own initiative.
It is a huge area, to learn.
My Husband spend HOURS, learning programming, Even if he learned it in school. It is ongoing still. Computer Programmers, always are experimenting on their own too. Because the industry is always changing and the technology.

Your kids will need, ideally, a computer on which to play around with and experiment with. I suggest a Mac computer.

But that is just a real scratching the surface thing.
You want a machine, on which THEY can work on.

Keep in mind, computer "programming" is very.... not easy.
It takes lots of learning.
And if you want to design games... this also takes a TON of learning... and experimenting. And even if you create a game... then you need to find out how to put it on the market and via what method.

My Husband designed games. Apps for the iPad type things.
It took months, to completion and it takes, money.

Ditto Jo W. as well.

There are TONS of things, to learn.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

My 9yo is that kind of gamer / wants to be a videogame designer when he grows up. I can't tell you what should be done, but I can tell you what he does / we're doing.

In our area there are videogame design camps (code, plotting, math, graphic design, design tools, languages etc.). Some are private, some are through the university. I'm HOPING to bite the bullet to send him this summer, as it costs and arm and a leg (over $800 for a week).

He watches a LOT of videos on the subject (behind the scenes with various studios, and youtube).

He makes a LOT of games and maps using tools that come along with certain games (like Halo Forge... Bungie ROCKS! They put their design tools in with the game, and then users get to create). He's actually had some of his maps, and one of his games used by Bungie (halo reach) in their user created games. Ditto, he's had some of his screenshots used in Halo Waypoints best of the week report. He's take HUNDREDS of screenshots and SCORES of maps and levels, and has learned over time both with screen shots and levels what other people like. He's got a good eye, and he really pays attention to what "sells". He makes stuff purely for himself, but he REALLY wants other people to have fun with his stuff, so he pays a lot of attention to what other people respond to.

He's not as keen on pure code games (like writing in Java), but prefers instead to use tools created by others. Like using Adobe Aftereffects, or Halo Forge.

He plays a LOT of different games of all types. I just went through our demo area in xBox live with him and we deleted 80 trials. He uses a bunch of different gaming systems, though. Minecraft (computer) has been a big thing this year.

Similarly, he watches a lot of movies, and films rather a lot. It's the plotting and scene creation thing. In fact...He watches certain scenes and levels over, and over, and over. Figuring out how they work, what makes them work, and works on duplicating them. He then experiments with different moods, character combos, etc. The ones he likes best he uploads and then listens to the criticism of other players. Who range from out and out abusive to technically detailed and super helptful. My favorite comment ever was "What happened? This level is totally childish. It's not like your other maps at all! It's like some teenager wrote it!" and my son replied back "Dude. I'm 8."

He studies a lot of "weird" math. Math that's used to figure out if your character is supposed to be 6' tall, and you want them in a hanger that can hold fighter jets, and the gravity is x... what are the proportions, how do those proportions change depending on x, y, z axis placement, and how would movements be different. But he doesn't know his times tables very well.

He reads a lot of forums, and talks to a lot of people. This sometimes makes life difficult, as the people he's talking to usually don't know he's a kid. Also, some of the things he's learning are quasi-legal at best.

We've been lucky enough to be able to go on fieldtrips to a couple game studios. This is a I phone them up and set something up.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Apple Retail Stores have workshops for various Apple products, software, etc. You can take workshops for iMovie, Final Cut Pro, etc. Not "gaming" stuff per se, but maybe a foundation to build from?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

maybe has a tech-savy group for tweens? you want like a 'boy scouts' for the technological guy right?

I agree with the answer that it definitely costs money to get into computers. Or a huge interest in learning. I had a friend who was almost dirt poor but had a huge love for electronics. he took apart his dad's stereo and put it back together. He messed with circuit boards and sautered and re-wired. He's now making pretty good money doing some sort of computer programming. But if your boys want to do things ON the computer, you'll need a good quality video card and plenty of programs. In high school, I designed websites using HTML code. Not a whole lot of fun, but a learning experience none the less.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Boston on

My daughter is hooked on the GameInformer magazine that you get at Gamestop if you sign up for their version of the courtesy card. It costs around $14 per year but I figure that is what a magazine would cost. It comes monthly and she gobbles it up from front to back, all about upcoming games and hints to play existing games and interviews with designers of games,etc.etc. She also loves the art since she wants to go more into graphics than game design. I would look for a monthly magazine like that to see where their interests go. But if they are geeks (and I use that terms affectionately) they will find the info themselves if they have access to the internet.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

My husband gives our son all of his books on computers, programming, scripting, web development, etc. He then reads them and tries to do what he can on his computer.

I say start off by grabbing them some books and having them read them. Then make sure they have access to a good computer and let them try it.

1 mom found this helpful
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