Yes, you read that correctly. A 9-year old boy, Basil Okpara Jr., in the suburbs of Lagos, Nigeria, sits in his living room and taps his computer keys. He does this not to watch a cartoon or a movie, but to build mobile games. Basil has been utilising a free programming language called Scratch 2 to build games across different genres.
The language, Scratch 2, allows users to create games, animations, and stories offline or online, and it has allowed Basil to build more than 30 mobile games. In a feature by CNN, as he built a hide and seek game, Basil discloses how he learnt the skill, saying, “I learned how to build games at a boot camp. Now, I build to keep me busy when I am bored”
This might begin to sound possible to you when you consider that his father signed him up for a five-day boot camp for children aged 5 to 15. Organized by Codefest International, this camp was established to give children access to emerging technologies like robotics and virtual reality.
According to his father, Basil Okpara Sr., Basil used to play a lot of mobile games growing up. “I bought him a tablet when he was 4 years old because I saw that he was always grabbing phones to play games with. He played Candy Crush and Temple Run a lot,” the father told CNN. He further disclosed that his son’s interesting in developing his own games grew at the age of 7 after he got scolded for spending his time playing games always.
“There was this day he was on his tablet, as usual, he was so carried away with the game he was playing that I got upset with him,” his father said.
He added “Out of annoyance, I said to him, ‘you are always playing games, can’t you think about building your own games so that others can play yours too?’. I was so angry when I said it, and I did not know he took it seriously.”
After this outburst, Basil showed active interest in learning how to develop his own games, spurring his parents to buy him a laptop and register him to learn the basic steps of building games.
Basil titles the games based on what they are about, and currently, the games are still in their raw form and can only be accessed on computers that have Scratch 2 installed. However, his father claims that one of the games, titled Frog attack, will be available on Google play store this month.