Ubisoft this week announced the immediate launch of Rabbids Coding, an educational game that helps teach programming principles to anyone aged from six plus. Released on PC via Uplay, the title gamifies the process with a series of puzzles set on a rabbid-infested space station, where the player is tasked with ejecting the rabbids into space to save the station.
“We tried to make it gamified with missions,” Olivier Palmieri, game director at Ubisoft Montreal, told us. “There are 32 missions and then you reach the sandbox level where you can code what you want, build it yourself.We’re trying to make it accessible, having a fun setting so that people want to get involved.”
And the sandbox then lets you play with everything you’ve learned, Palmieri explains: “You have all the instructions that you’ve learnt so far, and an open square area, so you can make fun with the rabbid, make him do things, play with all the instructions, there’s no limits, you can really do what you want. Get deeper into creativity.”
Of course there are a lot of other educational programming tools out there, though none we can think of that have a recognisable gaming icon like the rabbids in them.
“Many tools that are actually making you program and it can be a bit scary for people that can be scared by the code, the language to learn, we tried to make it very simple, very accessible, there’s blocks of instructions, its very gamified, actually you are kinds coding without noticing that much that you are coding.”
The idea has been in development for around a year. It was originally planned for a family centre in Montreal, “we wanted to teach those kids how to code and the mindset and logic of programming,” but then Ubisoft spread its ambitions and decided to make it available to the world.
While the initial solutions to each problem can be simple, there’s a star-based system allowing players to improve their approach.
“There’s also the notion of optimising your code through gamification, it’s OK if you put too many instructions, you still complete the level but maybe you get one star or two stars, but we encourage to continue and optimise your code to get the three stars.”
And while Ubisoft may benefit from a next-generation full of coders (with a deeper love of those rabbids) it’s looking at the tool more broadly as part of its efforts in corporate responsibility:
“Programming is one of the skill sets of the future, even more robots and AI, people programming things to help us, not replace us. We believe that it’s interesting to get a young audience into programming, so they’re more prepared in the future, if they are interested in video games, then it’s cool, but if you want to do other thing then it’s still good to understand programming.”
And while Rabbids Coding is only on PC at present, Palmieri isn’t ruling out a console version if it proves popular, which would be truly unique on such a platform.
“For now its on PC, but we’ll see in future depending on the demand, if people are interested in this being on console, then it could be something we consider.”