Erase All Kittens (E.A.K.) is an online game that teaches kids ages 8 to 14 computational thinking and professional coding languages by putting them on a mission to save a group of kittens that have gone missing in a unique fantasy universe. Teaching HTML, CMS, and JavaScript, this game's creators hope to close the gender gap in coding by appealing to girls with a storyline-based game, and bridge the gap between knowing the concepts of coding and actually being able to create on the web.

Pros:

There is no denying the brilliance of E.A.K.’s storyline. The inside-the-internet world of the game, in which the player must "feel the code in everything around you" (similar to the Force in Star Wars), inspires players to become masters of the coding art. And if the prestige of such mastery and the fun of a Mario-style game doesn’t motivate you, incentivization is also provided by kitten GIFs, which appear every time you rescue a kidnapped kitten.

Though the premise of the game and its characters may seem rather silly, the skills they teach certainly aren’t. The coding tasks presented in the game are always driven by the storyline so that they feel practical. For example, when you need to cross a broken bridge, you learn basic HTML to extend it to the other side. URLs are taught in a particularly clever way in this game; the player must follow a physical map to find a particular object at a specific location, with each region, store, and item mimicking a segment of a URL. This explains an abstract concept in a way that’s easy to grasp while also giving the player experience following and creating URLs themselves.

Though characters like Lao the Oracle and Tarquin Glitterquiff the entrepreneurial unimercorn (a unicorn merman) are fun, it’s also nice that E.A.K. gives the player the option to bypass the lengthy conversations with them. The player can choose between several pre-written responses throughout conversations to either learn new vocabulary, learn character backstories, or just move on with their quest.

Cons:

As of now, the free demo only includes three storylines, or about an hour of game time total. While the game can be purchased for individual or classroom use, few details are given on the website about how to purchase, and you have to email the company for more information. Making the game easier to buy would definitely be an advantage, especially because I was left wanting more!

Though I generally found the quirky storylines charming, the third segment didn’t feel like it would be of interest to the intended audience. Detailing a strange romance story between a lumpy creature named Boris J. Buttstacks and a mop, the story just wasn’t as engaging as the others.

Our Takeaway:

Erase All Kittens is one of those games you will want to play with your children or students. It’s fun, funny, and smart in how it presents coding concepts. For any kitten-loving, tech-fearing kids out there needing to build up important 21st century skills, this is the game for you.

Image: Erase All Kittens via Drum Roll HQ