Erase All Kittens: an online platform game that teaches you to code

With bonus cat GIFs

Everywhere you look on the internet you can see cats. From LOLcats to cat GIFs, they’re everywhere. In Erase All Kittens, an online platform game by Drum Roll, other furry animals are feeling left out and have decided to destroy all the cats on the internet. That’s where you come in. Your job in the game is to rescue the kittens by progressing through the levels. You move around, you jump from platform to platform, and you learn to code without even realising it.

The game has been created with kids in mind but anyone can learn to code (I didn’t start until my mid 20s) and Erase All Kittens does it with “stealth learning”. As you progress through the game, you get into situations where your normal platforming skills of running and jumping just aren’t enough. In an early level there’s a gap you simply cannot jump across. The game allows players to modify code and essentially have the levels to get through them. In the example with a huge gap, you can change the size of the platforms so they reach right across the level. Here it is in action:

The beauty of the game is how it gets you to think for yourself. The first couple of levels give some hints as to what to type to change the code. After all, if it’s your first time touching any code then it could seem intimidating. But a couple of levels later there are no automatic hints and yet everyone I’ve showed it to has figured out what to do next. It’s an important part of game design, teaching players through experience to figure out the next challenge for themselves. In Erase All Kittens, the player gets used to the game and quickly starts thinking like a programmer. It’s brilliant.

Erase All Kittens isn’t the first game to teach coding as you play, but it’s one of the best for people who have never had any experience with code before. We’ve shown it to a handful of coding newbies and nobody got stuck and a few said it made them want to learn about coding. The game is rewarding because you feel smart for figuring out how to hack the levels and you even get a cat GIF at the end of each level when you save a little kitten.

Erase All Kittens is still under development but it’s also free and open source so you can contribute if you want to help make it better. You can play the demo on the website. How many kittens can you save?

Main image © Drum Roll