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Begin Programming: Build Your First Mobile Game

Learn basic Java programming by developing a simple mobile game that you can run on your computer, Android phone, or tablet.

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About the course

Programming is everywhere: in dishwashers, cars and even space shuttles. This course will help you to understand how programs work and guide you through creating your own computer program – a mobile game.

Whether you’re a complete newcomer to programming, or have some basic skills, this course provides a challenging but fun way to start programming in Java. Over seven weeks we will introduce the basic constructs that are used in many programming languages and help you to put this knowledge into practice by changing the game code we have provided. You’ll have the freedom to create a game that’s unique to you, with support from the community and educators if you get stuck. You’ll learn how to create algorithms to solve problems and translate these into code, using the same tools as industry professionals worldwide. We will be using Google’s Android Studio as the platform for programming.

The course will combine video introductions, on-screen examples, downloadable guides, articles and discussions to help you understand the principles behind computer programs and the building blocks that are used to create them. Multiple choice quizzes will help you to check your understanding, while exercises each week will show you how to use your new skills to improve your game. Expert guidance from staff at the School of Systems Engineering at the University of Reading, UK, will help to you to get hands-on experience of programming.

At the end of the course you’ll have a complete game that can be played on an Android phone or tablet, or even your computer. You can share it with your friends and family, use your new knowledge to improve the game further, or even create new games of your own!

You can find out more about this course in Professor Shirley Williams’s blog post on the shortage of programmers.


This course is taken from our Make it Digital collection - part of the BBC’s major initiative to inspire digital creativity.

Requirements

This course teaches the basics of programming and you don’t need any knowledge of coding to take part. You may find it challenging at times, but we hope it will be fun too. However, the course does require you to be comfortable downloading, unzipping and installing software to your computer. If you think that you may find this difficult, you may like to have someone with a good knowledge of IT on hand to help you — particularly in week 1.

The 4 hours per week is an estimate based on past participants’ experiences, however some previous participants have reported taking much less time, while others take considerable longer to complete some weeks. This will depend on your experience and to some extent how powerful your computer is.

The course will give you an opportunity to write and edit your own programming code using specific software. To run this software effectively, we recommend a computer (Windows, Mac or Linux) that has a dual-core processor and a minimum of 2GB of RAM — though this may vary. For information on operating system support see the Android developers’ site.

You will need a computer to complete the practical coding exercises in this course, but if you just want to watch the videos and read the tutorials, you should be able to access these on most web connected devices, such as smartphones, tablets and consoles.

We recommended that you have an Android device (such as a phone or tablet) running at least Android 2.2 on which you can test and run your game. If you don’t have an Android device you can use an emulator on your computer, but this is a much slower and more error-prone process.

This course includes video content and other visual teaching methods. As such, blind and visually impaired students may need a helper.


Trailer music: Chibi Ninja by Eric Skiff used under the Creative Commons Attribution licence

Get a personalised, printed certificate

You can buy a Statement of Participation for this course — a personalised, printed certificate to show that you’ve taken part.