Code Hunt - New Coding Game From Microsoft Research
Written by Sue Gee
Monday, 26 May 2014
Code Hunt is an educational game which you can play in Java of C#. It entirely browser based so there's nothing to install and as you progress through its levels you learn more without having to type in more than a snippet of code.
Code Hunt provides its own tutorial which opens with a screen that possibly gives the wrong impression by saying that you have to "find, restore and capture as many code fragments as possible".
However, if you work your way through the next three screens you quickly understand that what you are expected to do is to modify a code fragment so that it produces the expected results. You get points not only for working code but also for elegant solutions.
For example, here what is required isn't simply to add more ifs to cover all possible test cases but to remove those lines and edit the code to read:
For this you'll score full marks and can continue to the next code fragment.
The game has 14 levels which are unlocked successively. Level 1 covers arithmetic, then you progress through loops, conditionals, and strings to nested loops, arrays and then on to searching, sorting and cyphers with the final level containing puzzles. Level 1 has 15 sectors and there are probably the same number in the others. That's one of the flaws of the game - you can't fast forward. You are invited to sign in with your Google, Microsoft, Yahoo or Facebook credentials to save your progress - but signing in crashed Code Hunt for me.
Code Hunt is based on Pex, Microsoft Research's implementation of dynamic symbolic execution that powers Pex4Fun. On the whole it seems more fun and easier to use than its predecessor. Coming from Microsoft Research it is being used to investigate how well users respond to the gamification it introduces. The Feedback Survey reveals that they expect it to be used by children and young adults as its age categories stop at 26+.
There is more potential in Code Hunt. It offers a facility for creating extra zones with new sectors and levels and it can also be used for coding competitions with their own set of sectors and levels. But for this you need to contact Microsoft.
AI and robotics have been making headline-grabbing progress recently and high profile people have started to worry in public about the future. Now we have over 1000 signatures on a letter urging a ban [ ... ]