Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Chris emailed me yesterday in reference to my post about teaching hockey positioning to younger kids and basically said, "Hey stupid! You're a programmer! Why not make it an app?"

Gee, that's actually a great idea.

This is going to sound stupid, but I kind of forget that I know how to program. Even though I made a game, it still feels like something that other people do, not me.

This would be perfect, though, for several reasons.

Coaches teaching positioning to young kids is frustrating and time-consuming. However, those same kids are doing wildly complicated things in Minecraft. I see seven and eight-year-olds playing Minecraft on tablets all the time at the rink while their siblings are playing hockey. So young kids are certainly capable of understanding complexity, if it's presented properly.

Also, trying to teach five kids positioning at one time is incredibly difficult. Focusing on one kid at a time is much easier, with a higher chance for success. And the app can stress that learning how to play a position makes hockey much more fun to play with friends, because everyone is working together.

If you create a game that teaches hockey positioning and sneaks in good lessons about teamwork, then boom. Trojan horse for the win.

Plus, in addition to helping kids better enjoy a game that they love, which would make me very happy, this app would have to be on mobile devices, because that's primarily what kids use. So it forces me off VB.NET (even though I don't want to leave) and onto a development platform that compiles to a variety of operating systems. That would be hugely useful for the espionage game or whatever else I wanted to try in the future.

I've been thinking about this virtually nonstop today, and I fleshed out some framework. It would be a game called "Superstar Hockey Adventures!", and it would have a visual style reminiscent of the old Humongous games (Putt-Putt, Backyard Football, etc.).

The basic premise would be that when you choose a position, you become a citizen of a city (Centerville, for example). The mayor of the town is happy to help you get acquainted with all the things you can do in Centerville, so that you can enjoy your time there as much as possible.

After learning the city limits of your town, you get to learn about its various neighborhoods, and who lives there. Eventually, no matter where the puck is, you know what neighborhood you belong in and why.

The five cities (positions) make up a state. And when you start a game, you can add the names of your friends, so that you're all traveling together. You're on a hockey team in a state, playing with your friends.

When you master one level, you go to another state (actually, scratch that--you go to another country). You have a little passport, and every time you go somewhere new, your passport gets a new stamp.

As you progress, your hockey team gets better and better. At the last level, you're "playing" at the World Championships. And if you understand all your positional responsibilities, you win the world championships and get a special certificate of achievement to print out.

I know this is just a skeleton, but I like the level progression and the rewards. And I think kids would like it, too.

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