Code Kingdoms teaches children to program through gaming

Graduates aim to teach children coding through gaming after Entrepreneur First encourages “great idea”

Technology start-up Code Kingdoms has set its sights on creating a new generation of coders by teaching kids to program through gaming.

The company teaches children aged between six and 13 the basics of computer science and programming. They are taught JavaScript through games in which they build their own levels in order to progress.

Code Kingdoms was founded by graduates Hugh Collins and Ross Targett after they were spotted by Entrepreneur First, an investment programme that aims to find talented graduates to help it build ideas and eventually form technology start-ups.

Targett told Computer Weekly that Entrepreneur First founders Matt Clifford and Alice Bentinck had encouraged them to apply. “We had the idea, and they convinced us it was a great idea,” he said. “They helped us to think about raising funds and to think about the customer. We put coding out to kids' imagination and let them build the games.”

Code Kingdoms is now available online on desktop and mobile. In six months' time, the company plans to be generating revenue and to have a team of five on board.

Four years ago, Targett began to teach computer science and STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects in schools, and continued to teach in schools after he joined Intel as a software engineer. He had previously specialised in traffic software and during his final-year university exams, his start-up, Twitraffic, was acquired. 

Targett holds a computer science and business degree from the University of Warwick.

During his time as a teacher, Targett noticed that “children lacked knowledge about computational thinking”. He describes Code Kingdoms as “like Minecraft, but you code the world”.

Targett met Collins through Entrepreneur First’s programme. Collins studied computer science at Cambridge University, where he founded games company PointCliki, whose HTML 5 and JavaScript games engine now powers Code Kingdoms. 

Collins described Code Kingdoms as a solution to the lack of fun educational games available to children that teach programming. He said it allows kids to design their own worlds, which includes programming animals, for friends.

Targett said an equal number of boys and girls are interested in the scheme. “It is gender neutral – no explosions or gore," he said. “Girls are better logical thinkers and will outperform the boys. 

“The boys are very keen and have attended coding clubs for hacks before. The girls are good at problem-solving. They are a lot more detailed and pick it up more quickly.”

He added that there were not many girls on his university course. “The culture of the degree is very boyish and that needs to be fixed,” he said.

Read more on IT technical skills