Thursday, December 10, 2009

Review: Tektoma - Game Tutorials for Kids





Anyone who knows my children well, knows how much they enjoy a good video game. (I blame society. And their father...) In fact, my son especially adores all things Mario & Luigi and would love nothing more than to zap himself into Nintendo Land to live happily among all those funky little characters forever and ever. Or at least until he lost his last life. Then he'd want out.

Ethan has occasionally mentioned wanting to work for Nintendo when he's older and enjoys studying other gamer's strategies in order to cheat beat the games. His good friend, Adam is quite the genius (seriously!) and has partially walked Ethan through the process of creating his own video game. :)

Well, needless to say the heavens parted on this next review product and The Boy was very eager to try it out!

Tektoma offers online gaming tutorials for kids ages 7-17 using the free version of GameMaker Software(YoYo Games--which Ethan was already very familiar with). Varying skill levels make it appropriate for almost everyone and users have multiple gaming options:
  • Arcade
  • Racing
  • Platform (Ethan's preferred format as it's most like Mario. Go figure.)
  • Fantasy Adventure
  • Memory

Tektoma provides several shortcuts and pre-made graphics to make the game creation process easier, however younger children may still require a bit of help. (Or mommies with absolutely no gaming background.)

Tektoma provides fresh content each month, so users never have to worry about getting "bored" and "learning it all". Their well-moderated user's forum allows children to safely ask questions, get help, and converse with other users.

Our Opinion

Like I said, Ethan was more than eager to try this out. However, he found himself struggling immediately and we couldn't figure out why the site/downloads weren't working the way they should. Well, it turns out---his mother's an idiot. Seems I failed to read the Compatibility and User Requirements before giving it a go.

Tektoma runs on Windows XP or Vista....not Windows 7. (Yeah. Guess which one we have?) But all wasn't lost. Seems there's a handy-dandy "compatibility mode" button at the top of the status bar....that and Abby's machine still runs on XP. Voila`!

Tektoma's tutorials are great. The graphics are nice and smooth (not choppy or "stupid looking"--Ethan's words), the explanations are very thorough, and students can work at their own pace.

However, getting through every single step involved with game programming is tedious to say the least. Especially when you're a mixture of Mexican, Irish, Spanish, Cherokee and Jewish blood. You have no patience with that mix of blood flowing through your veins, my dear readers. None! So needless to say, after spending over 2 hrs on one video game, we were ready to scream Ethan wanted to quit. (I don't see a desk at Nintendo on the horizon quite yet.)

I struggled a bit with Tektoma too, but only because video games are not my forte. Never have been, never will be. I had to keep going back over everything I just looked at/read because--whoosh! It was already out of my head by the time I got to the next step. (Oops)

If you have the patience coupled with a solid interest in gaming or programming, then Tektoma would be a good fit for you and your children.

A subscription to Tektoma is $14.95 per month or $140/year. You can try it out FREE for 14 days.

It requires a broadband internet connection and either Windows XP or Vista. (There is no Mac version available just yet.) The required GameMaker Lite software is available as a free download through their website.

Overall, I'd have to say that Tektoma is a useful product. Although my son and I have the patience of a gnat, that doesn't mean the website itself is to blame, nor the process of video game creation as a whole. However, we'll have to take things MUCH more slowly in the future if we ever hope to see Ethan's "inner vidiot" shine through. :)

Tektoma receives 1.5 thumbs up! :)

*I received a free membership to Tektoma for the purpose of this review. No other compensation was given and my opinions are strictly my own.*

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