The Programming Game

I created “The Programming Game” as an activity for “Bring your kid to work day”, the idea being to illustrate programming concepts in a fun and active way.

To “play” the game, you first make 5 x 5 grid. It works best if each cell in the grid is a chair such as conference room chairs or folding lunch-room chairs. If no chairs are available, paper taped to the floor would work too.

Mark one of the squares as an “entrance” square, and another (ideally on a distant side of the grid) as an “exit” square. Next, place red pieces of paper on five or six of the squares. These are “bugs” to be avoided.

The game is played with teams of three players. One player is the “programmer” who, looks at the grid and attempts to determine the optimal path from entrance to exit. The “program” is a stack of printed movement cards . Another player is the “data”. This player is blindfolded. The third player is the “cpu” and it’s this player’s job to follow the program and guide the “data” player from chair to chair, following the programmer’s instructions.

If the “data” player lands on a red square, the game is over.

Here is the printed instruction sheet that I used for the game.

Here is a page of “program” cards. I printed out 10 pages of these which was more than enough to supply two sets of players.