Dungeons & Dragons, the grandfather of all roleplaying games, celebrates its 40th birthday this year! I can’t well think of a better way to incorporate and express all the wonderfully creative aspects of gaming and storytelling than the campaigns born out of Gary Gygax’s creation from 1974. Here’s a fantastic and cerebral analysis of the development (and fluidity) of plot from a veteran Dungeon Master.
Léon: The Professional, directed by Luc Besson is a movie I remember first watching over a decade and a half ago on network TV – a young me thought it was the best thing I’d ever seen: a hitman dropping from ceilings and stairways and taking out scores of victims with a grittiness and style that was more appealing than any prototypical Bond film of the time. But it wasn’t until after scattered re-viewings over the years that I began to appreciate the layers of dramatic and emotional depth in Léon. After once again watching the uncut international version the other day, 20 years after its initial release in 1994, I’ve no issues in saying Léon is one of my all-time favorite films. So much so that yes, I am writing a movie review two decades later.
…in general when dealing with younger people, he simply thinks of them as adults with a lot less experience.
Check out this video from the YouTube channel Extra Credits for one whirlwind analysis of designing games for children. From the cross section of commercial box art and parental ignorance, to the far reaching nature of games such as Minecraft, this video introduces a base of understanding for designing games for youth and children.
Summer is here and in the spirit of this season of activity, I’m picking up where I left off in my 6.00x Intro to Computer Science and Programming series through MIT’s MOOC on edX. I completed the course two months ago (I followed their regular weekly scheduled assignments as bonus motivation to stay on track) so here is my look back at the last five weeks of the course, and my thoughts on the experience in general for those of you considering or on the fence about signing up yourselves.
Week 4 in the 6.00.1x course started with some general background on the history and process of “debugging.”
Legend has it that Harvard’s old Mark II electromagnetic computer saw a series of malfunctions and glitches while in use that prompted operators to physically go into the server room (the year was 1946 and the computers were as large as you’d imagine) and discover a moth trapped inside, causing short circuiting. A fun anecdote on the origin of the word, but not the actual first use of the term.
This week in 6.00.1x focused on two lectures that introduced the ideas of recursion and objects in programming. In the case of recursion, a number of finger exercises quizzed our ability to understand the way a function can iteratively call upon itself, given some base case it approaches. While the standard “for” and “while” loops we learned in the previous two weeks may seem more intuitive and straightforward, a demonstration of recursion quickly proved its power through a programmatic solution to the classic Tower of Hanoi puzzle game.
Highlights From Week 2
After an introductory week of defining key Python syntax, binary notation, and type properties, week 2 of MITx’s 6.00x course jumped right into some more “meaty” programming 101. It started with one of the most fundamental concepts of programming – iteration and loop mechanisms.
The concept was ultimately demonstrated with an exercise that asked for a guess and checking program that would print out any number you’re thinking of between 1 and 100…with a little user input verification of whether the current guess was higher or lower than their number. One way to do this game is obviously to just make the program ask the user if his/her number was “1” and wait for confirmation, and then guess the next number. The number can’t be lower than “1”, so the user will input “higher” which tells the program to guess the next number. In this case, “2” then “3” and so on until it guesses correctly.