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Brief Published: 4 Jun 2021

Nintendo's Metagame for Code-Free Game Design

Tapping into the edutainment boom and the gaming consumer-creator phenomenon, Nintendo's Game Builder Garage uses a visual programming interface to enable accessible, code-free game design.

Scheduled for release on June 11, the game helps programming feel less daunting for newbies by using coloured anthropomorphic squares called Nodons (a cute twist on 'nodes', a basic unit of a data structure in computer science) rather than lines of code. Nodons can be linked together to determine how the game runs. For example, you tell one Nodon what to do when you push left on the joystick, another what to do if you run into an enemy and another what music to play and when.

Players can share and play their creations with friends, making coding an enjoyable, sociable activity – countering some of its past stereotypes – while encouraging the development of Stem subjects and creative thinking.

This is Nintendo's first game to tackle programming so explicitly. Past titles like the Mario Maker series have sold millions by giving players ready-made building blocks to assemble their own levels in familiar games. Game Builder Garage is the next step in engaging maturing cohorts who have gained high technological literacy through social game creation platforms like Roblox (which boasts 37.1 million daily active users worldwide).

For more on how the creator economy is empowering consumers to participate in the creative industries, check out our Three-Minute Trend: Bedroom Blockbusters, and keep an eye out for our upcoming report on the edutainment boom.

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