Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sparrow upstages senior Microsoft executives

To get a glimpse of the future, you need to see how young people are using technology.
Last week, a demonstration during a Microsoft presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show provided such an opportunity.
A 12-year-old girl named Sparrow Buerer showed how to create a video game using a new application called Kodu. Microsoft designed the software to teach programming to kids.
The tweener stole the show from high-profile Microsoft execs Steve Ballmer and Robbie Bach by using a game controller to build a game scenario at blazing speeds.
The keynote crowd, amused by her superfast programming skills, burst out laughing in amazement. Her quick clicks on the controller played out on a big screen as she zipped through menus and made selections too fast for the crowd to follow what she was doing.
Sparrow created a new mini-game on the fly and played it against Bach, president of Microsoft’s entertainment and devices division. The simple game involved gathering shiny rocks and taking them to a little house. In gamer lingo, she “pwnd” Bach, beating him easily.
The crowd gave her an enthusiastic round of applause for her efforts.
“Now that’s a generation-defining experience,” Bach said afterward.
Check out the video for yourself.
Kodu will be released this spring on the Xbox Live Community Games channel and will help people of all ages program their own games.
Kodu is built around a game-friendly programming language that is simple and icon-based. Players can choose from 20 different game characters, including the Pac Man-like Kodu main character, and use an interactive terrain editor to create a game world. The game features nearly 200 visual building blocks and an image-based creator menu. Kodu can be used and played on either a PC or an Xbox 360.

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