As you’ve probably noted from past blogs, we’ve never accepted the orthodoxy against screens or electronic toys: screen time is sort of inevitable for any modern kid, and the right iPhone app can be a total lifesaver if you desperately need to keep a toddler entertained. And anyone who has ever watched a little Minecraft fan at work knows that electronic games can absolutely nurture creativity and learning! The key is choosing the RIGHT tech toys, and Bloxels, from Pixel Press Technology, fits perfectly into our product selection.
There are tons of apps out there that enable kids to create some version of their own video game, but Bloxels is special because it brings that creation into the physical world, with a 13 x 13 pixel grid and colored blocks. The blocks are used both to create the look and function of the video game world: you can create characters, layouts, and other game objects and show how they’ll move, but you also use the color-coded blocks to structure gameplay (blue = water, red = hazard, pink = power-up, etc.). Scan and configure the pixel designs with your iPad using the free and easy-to-use Bloxels app, and voila! You’ve got a game.
One neat thing about the Bloxels system of game creation is that while you can create games without the board, reviewers report that kids actively prefer building their designs on the board, and that it actually makes it easier to animate designs. A reviewer at Tech Age Kids tried it out with her kid, and writes:
“The Bloxels app is free and you can create games without the board. I was a bit concerned that the board would have been a waste of money and my kids could have just used the app. However, they have both preferred to create on the board rather than in the app. I think the board will give the app longevity as my kids will use the board to create some pixel art and then want to bring it into a game…
“The board works really naturally for creating animations which are used a lot in Bloxels. Just physically moving the pixels you want to change works well. Unless you want to shift the design by one pixel in a particular direction. But for simple changes it works well and my kids quickly understood the concept and started creating animated characters.”
Of course ultimately it doesn’t matter what we grownups think of a toy: the ultimate toy experts are kids, so we handed Bloxels off to two seasoned reviewers, Mira and Zev, who have been road-testing toys for Magic Beans for their entire lives. Let’s see what they think, in the following video!
You can watch a thorough point-by-point tutorial here:
More creative tech toys: