It has been confirmed that Kodu will hit the Xbox 360 in the Spring. This is a piece of software designed to assist anyone even as young as 7 to create their own video games.

To quote: The idea of video game players making their own games arrived on console systems three months ago with Sony's release of LittleBigPlanet for the PlayStation 3. That game let players create new environments and levels for the game's character SackBoy.

Kodu is also expected to have some online sharing features if privacy concerns can be addressed properly, says lead designer Matt MacLaurin. And Kodu, because it is more programming-based, will give designers more control over the rules that govern the characters in their games.

"Although these are programming constructs, we tried to express them in terms that almost a toddler can understand," he says. Learning is at the heart of Kodu. At home one night, MacLaurin says he "started thinking what is my (four-year-old) daughter going to think computers are for and what is she going to think her own abilities in regard to the computer are."

He decided to create a simple game creation program that "you could sit down and start creating right away and play in half an hour have something that is really fun to play with," he says.

Two years ago, the team at Microsoft Research began an after school program with non-profit group Girls Inc. and the University of Santa Barbara to see how the Kodu program helped youngsters progress in science, math, logic and problem solving. "The feedback was incredible," Satchell says. "The children loved to build their own games."

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