[ we make science jokes, periodically ]

ICYMI: Retro Games are Back!

Kids love games; it's science! Kids also have incredible imaginations and need a creative outlet to unleash their ideas. This is where Microsoft MakeCode Arcade comes in!

With MakeCode's kid-friendly coding editor, it's easier than ever to sneak coding and graphic design into a child's favorite pastime: video games. Super easy drag-and-drop blocks.

But wait, there's more! After creating the next viral Flappy Bird game, the program can be uploaded onto a GameBoy-like package!

Easily overwhelmed? Don't be. We'll outline every step to getting started on your MakeCode Arcade journey. 

1. Choose a device here.
The most overwhelming step is choosing the type of device. It's like an IHOP menu; there are so many hardware options! Know that they will all work; one is not significantly better or worse than another.

If you're wondering what we use at SteamRocket, we're super big fans of the Adafruit PyGamer. It works well for basic games, is easy to use, and has a protective case. We are also super big fans of protective cases! Another pro with the Adafruit PyGamer is that it can also be used as a general hardware development device by attaching sensors, buttons, or other things. Hello, multifunctionality!

1A. Optional: Protect that device. After you choose a device, consider picking up a case for it.

2. Bring ideas to the table - or, well, editor
Now you have everything you need to start your video game designing adventure! Next is hopping over to MakeCode to check out some fantastic tutorials on how to get started. We suggest starting with this one. It splits steps into easily achievable bits and gives certificates at the end to earn.

3. Let's go! Now that you've designed your game, it's time to upload it to your shiny new device!

3A. Pairing*
Connect the device to the computer and open the Arcade Editor.
Click  (next orange Download button)
Select Connect Device.
Choose your device from the list.
*You should only need to pair once.

3B. Uploading
Select Choose Hardware.
Find and select your device.
Click Download.

4. Time to play!
The game stays on the device until you replace or reset it.

We've found kids are super motivated to bring their ideas to life. Unlike wrapping up chores, they will spend as much time as it takes to get their hero to move around, jump and fight the baddest bad guy - without realizing they've learned coding, graphic design, problem-solving, complex planning, and a host of other skills that will benefit them later in life.