Introduction to Scratch

What is Scratch?

Scratch is a free web-based visual game engine developed by the MIT Media Lab. Scratch is an excellent introduction to core principles of game development and coding. The purpose is to learn and practice skills that will help in all aspects of future programming and coding, whether it be for the web or for game and app development. Scratch should be viewed as a pathway to learn these skills and as a way to get a taste of how a game development platform works.

Scratch is quite powerful when used within this framework. The aim is to develop the skills that are crucial to future coding and programming success in a fun, interactive way. The areas covered in this workshop are core skills that will provide an excellent foundation in programmatic thinking and problem solving.

Benefits of Scratch

Scratch has several core features that make it a powerful framework for developing programming skills.

Accessibility:

  • Scratch is free and web-based. These two features make Scratch a highly accessible platform. Once you have an account, you can then work on any project from any internet connected computer. There is no need to ensure that you’re on the same computer each session.
  • Scratch is multi-platform. Along the lines of the first point, you can work on any project from either a PC or a Mac. You can start a project on a Mac and then continue to work on it from a PC, provided that you have internet connectivity.
  • Scratch is user friendly. New users will find that Scratch is intuitively designed. Once you have a basic understanding of the interface you’ll be able to start creating right away. There isn’t a need to work with any additional text editors or file managers.

High Level of Engagement

Scratch is an engaging platform for youth to develop programming skills.

Language Agnostic

The concepts developed in Scratch are language agnostic. The understanding and familiarity with programmatic thinking and problem solving will carry over into other languages and game development frameworks such as HTML5/Javascript, Unity, Unreal Engine, or Swift among others.

What Scratch Is Not

While there are numerous benefits of Scratch, it’s useful to understand what Scratch is not. Scratch is a game development framework that allows for the creation of functional games, but Scratch is not a professional game development platform. You may find people stating that Scratch is not a professional platform because of the visual, block based coding.

Instead, Scratch is not professional because games must be played/viewed in the browser, and therefore there is no real way to create professional exportable games. The fact that Scratch games “live inside themselves” is what makes it not a professional platform. Additionally, unless it’s a position as a developer for Scratch, you won’t find any professional level jobs looking for a developer who can code in Scratch. For this reason, Scratch is much more beneficial doing what it does best- being an excellent starting point for programming and game design.

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