Microsoft has launched a new section of its Imagine Cup technology competition: the Kodu Challenge, a contest encouraging young children and teens to build their own video games using Kodu visual programming software, reports Forbes.
Kodu is a simple program that empowers users to build their own games using its tools, adding elements like interactive and static objects, gameplay mechanics and scoring systems. Software tools also include a terrain editor, bridge and path builder and 20 different characters with unique abilities to populate the world with. The software is free on PC and $5 through the Xbox Live Marketplace, and both versions allow use of the Xbox controller in both building and gameplay input.
The first Kodu competition will challenge participants to create interactive stories under the theme "water and people." Finalists will be sent all-expenses-paid to the finals in St. Petersburg, Russia. Other prizes include cash and grants.
According to Microsoft's page, the software demonstrates that video game programming can be a creative medium and can help children develop critical thinking skills. Programming, Microsoft writes, helps young participants break down complex goals into steps, an applicable method for all business, academic and and personal subjects.
For more information on Kodu, check out Microsoft's website.