There’s no doubt that most kids love gaming and technology. With the vast array of gaming systems out on the market today, it’s hard to find a child who doesn’t own one. Well, Microsoft knows and appreciates the enthusiasm kids have for gaming. In fact, they recently announced the full availability of Microsoft Kodu Game Lab for the PC and the launch of the nationwide Microsoft Kodu Cup 2011 competition to help hone their skills!

Kodu Cup invites students, ages 9 to 17, to design, build and submit their own video games using the Kodu Game Lab software— no previous programming experience necessary! Kids can now enter the competition, read the Official Rules and learn more at

Microsoft Kodu Game Lab, available at, is a free game design tool that enables kids to easily build their own video games for the PC within minutes by dragging and dropping images and simple icons, rather than using complex programming languages. The tool builds real-world skills by encouraging kids to analyze a problem and develop a solution. They do this by building virtual cartoon characters and the worlds in which those characters live. The full release of Kodu Game Lab for the PC includes new features, such as an interactive system that guides users through each step of making games — creating terrain, adding characters and programming them. It also includes a community feature that allows users to share games with other PC-based Kodu Game Lab users.

“Today’s kids have a natural passion for video games and video game design,” said Michael H. Levine, Ph.D., executive director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. “Microsoft’s Kodu Cup is a great way to harness that passion and apply it in a way that helps improve academic achievement, skills and interest in the careers of the future, which are going to fuel our country.”

Developed by Microsoft Research, Kodu Game Lab is designed to promote learning skills for children while igniting their interest in future careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). As stated in President Obama’s State of the Union address in late January 2011, STEM skills are increasingly critical to remaining competitive in the workforce and the world. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the U.S. will have more than 2 million job openings in STEM-related fields by 2014. Kodu Game Lab helps kids build a strong foundation in STEM-related skills and inspires them to study and pursue STEM fields in a way that’s both fun and interesting to them.

“Our research has shown that Kodu Game Lab appeals equally to girls and boys and helps promote creativity, self-confidence, critical thinking and technology skills,” said Lili Cheng, general manager of Microsoft’s Future Social Experiences Labs. “Kids don’t feel like they’re programming so much as playing, even though they’re creating sophisticated worlds, characters and storylines.”
Here are some details about this year’s Kodu Cup competition:

• Submissions will be accepted through May 10, with winners announced in late May.
• The competition will be broken into two age groups — 9 to 12 years old and 13 to 17 years old — with a grand prize winner and first and second   runners-up from each group.
• The grand prize winners receive $5,000 for themselves and their respective schools, as well as a trip to the Imagine Cup 2011 Worldwide Finals in New York.
• Kids are encouraged to participate, register and learn more about the competition at
• All entrants under the age of 13 must have a parent or guardian’s consent to participate in the competition.
• Quick tips on gaming are available at

As part of its Unlimited Potential program, Microsoft has made significant investments to prepare and empower teachers who teach STEM subjects and to inspire young people to consider careers in STEM-related fields. Kodu Cup is part of this commitment, which includes programs such as Imagine Cup, Partners in Learning and DigiGirlz.

More information on Kodu Game Lab and a free program download are available at