Pangnirtung computer code club lets kids make games

Young people in Pangnirtung are getting a crash course in computer games this week, with a visit from a professional programmer with one of the world’s largest video game companies.
Forget the great outdoors. Kids who have the week off of school in Pangnirtung, Nunavut, this week are learning to program their own computer games, and are considering a future in the industry.

Every day this week, young members of the Pangnirtung Code Club will learn a new programming concept, and use it to build games.

It’s part of the brand new computer club’s February break program.

“Computers are just sitting there waiting for you to tell it what to do,” said Ryan Oliver, one of the club’s organizers. “Once you understand the basic language that it’s speaking, you can program it to do endless things.”

By the end of the week, all participants will have created five or six computer games of their own.

Oliver hopes the club will show kids there is a future in the video game industry.

“I think the stories here are some of the best in the world,” he says. “And right now we don’t have the capacity internally to develop teams that develop games to tell those stories, so this is part of building that.”

To drive the point home, Oliver has invited a lifelong friend for the week.

Michael Despault is a programmer with EA Sports, one of the world’s largest video game companies.

“I know people enjoy our games,” he said, “but being able to give something back and see the kids… it’s just a huge experience for me.”

Despault has worked on EA Sports’ NHL games.

Throughout the week, students will video conference with EA to learn about other video game jobs.

The club meets all this week, and then every Saturday afternoon after that.