Teaching Computer Programming through Game Design: A Game-First Approach

Giti Javidi, Ehsan Sheybani


This study investigated the effects of learning computer programming using game design on high school students' attitude and interest in computing careers. Our approach involved using the mass appeal of game design and creation to introduce students to programming and algorithmic thinking. We present this study with a threefold goal: (1) presenting game-based learning activities to help high school students acquire programming skills, (2) discussing best ways programming can be introduced through game design, and (3) evaluating the impact of learning programming on students’ attitude towards computing careers. This paper presents our findings and observations over multiple years of teaching computer programming to high school students. By leveraging students’ interest in game design, we have been able to help students become excited about programming and discovering a new passion in computing. The findings substantiate the fact that the project has been successful in increasing students’ understanding of computing principles and programming associated with games, suggesting that students have positive perceptions of computing. Overall, results indicate that game design appeals to students and is a powerful teaching tool in getting students exposed and interested in programming.


K-12 Education, Game Design, Programming, High School, Computing Education and Workforce, Visual Programming Tools, Unity 3D, C#, Scratch

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