INTRO TO SCRATCH
Make your own games and animations,
free and easy. By Jeremy Kerfs
The big video game companies create best-selling
titles every year, but for the rest of us, bringing our
own unique game ideas from wishful thinking into
reality is notoriously difficult.
Creating even the simplest functionality can
take tens of thousands of lines of code. Luckily, the
MIT Media Lab has created free software, Scratch
( scratch.mit.edu), that lets kids create their own
games or interactive stories using an easy drag-and-drop interface and some elementary programming.
Photograph by Jeremy Kerfs
Download, install, and launch Scratch, and soon
you’ll be creating simple “side-scrollers” — games
like Super Mario Bros., where characters navigate
obstacles left-to-right. You can also make your
characters communicate via speech balloons, like
an animated cartoon. Scratch makes no distinction between games and animations; it’s all in
How Scratch Works
In software parlance, Scratch is an object-oriented,
event-driven, visual programming environment.
Let’s take those terms separately.
Object-oriented means that you design each
character in your game (each sprite) by putting
together scripts that dictate its behavior. Then
when you run the game, the sprites all just do their
own thing. To influence each other, the sprites pass
coded messages called broadcasts.
Event-driven means that every script you assemble
for each sprite runs in reaction to some triggering
event, like when the player clicks on the sprite, or
hits one of the keyboard keys, or when another
sprite broadcasts a message.