In the fall of 2015, Lighthouse Labs was approached by one of our former graduates, Melody Ma, about participating in an initiative called Codecreate. Codecreate is a program designed by Melody for the purpose of providing a structured, supportive environment for introducing children ages 8-18 to programming. Built around the Hour of Code initiative launched in 2013 by the website Code.org. Since its inception, over 20 million people have taken part in crafting over 600 million lines of code.
Codecreate sounded exactly like the kind of initiative that Lighthouse wanted to be part of, given our commitment to a #PayItForward mentality for 2015. Lighthouse is extremely grateful to Vancouver and the province of BC for the support that we have gotten from the community and the government to allow us to grow and flourish the way we have in our initial two years of existence. So far in 2015, we have been focusing on giving back to the community through programs like HTML500 and Code It Forward.
The opportunity to inspire youth to be interested in code was a no-brainer. We realized that while Codecreate was a vehicle for the Hour of Code in BC, even more important was that it was an opportunity to change hearts and minds about the accessibility of technology and digital literacy. We consider code to be the new literacy and are thrilled to see programming becoming a core part of the curriculum in many school districts throughout North America and Europe.
Finding a way to inspire youth aged 8-18 to code means that we have to be very creative in developing a curriculum. With that in mind, I set out to build a space game. If there is something I remember from being a child, it was the joy of blowing up alien-shaped blobs of pixels with lasers. With that, the game Wormhole was born. I started off with a simple premise, that you had a ship that would fly around a level and kill aliens. This kept the controls simple, and the game mechanics simple as well.
What we have found after doing three sessions of Codecreate is that kids are not intimidated by technology at all, and instead are really excited to have the opportunity to go in and change the game and personalize it. This is the appeal of games such as Minecraft and other world-builder games, where the power is in your hands as a user and participant to create the experience in your own vision.
We were extremely pleased to take part in the Codecreate events in Vancouver, Victoria, and Prince George. In January, we will be doing another event in Kelowna. The support of the BC Government, Mobify, ACL, and other sponsors means that we are empowering youth to become developers, making them stakeholders in the technology they use. It reinforces our belief that in the world of developers, your value isn't from what you consume. Instead, your value comes from what you contribute.