Games for Learning
My son and I tried out one of the games (We are not the ready to write our own) to see what kind of games children have designed. The game we looked at is called "Dinosaur Sustanability". Except for the absence of walls, the game looks like the "pac-man". In this case, the player moves a dinosaur through a grid of vegetation. Sustainability (which is absent in "pac-man") requires the dinosaur to space out the feeding so that one survives throughout the period without starvation. There are additional levels. In the next level, the game is repeated but this time, in the presence of another dinosaur. There is now competition, but the allotted time and a limited amount of food remain as constraints. The next two levels introduce some sort of a chomper so the dinosaur not only has to space wisely its consumption and be aware of competition, but also worry about getting killed. My son and I made it to the highest level:
When I was in grade school, some of these concepts are introduced in stories. We learned, for example, from the story of an ant and a grasshopper the values of working hard and saving for a rainy day, instead of just wasting every sunny day away. Designing games certainly take learning to quite a different level. I do not know exactly how much time is needed for a child to imagine, design and write a game like "Dinosaur Sustanability". My guess is that it is a substantial amount, but it is probably better time spent on just playing the games themselves or watching television.