Many gaming-savvy teenagers and adults create modifications, or mods, of the video games that they play. By doing this, they transcend from mere players into virtual world creators. Conceptualizing, designing, building, testing, revising – these are all complex cognitive skills that go far beyond the relatively simplistic skills required by many educational software programs.
So I was delighted to see my 2nd-grade son and 4th-grade daughter breathlessly rush up to me today to show me the levels that they created for their newest Nintendo DS game, Mario vs. Donkey Kong 2: March of the Minis. At ages 7 and 9, they’re already engaging in complex world creation on their little Nintendo just like they can with SimCity, The Sims, Zoo Tycoon, and RollerCoaster Tycoon. Best of all, they are finding that creating new worlds may be more fun than just playing the game.