Robot Turtles game breaks out with huge Kickstarter backing

Robot Turtles, a board game designed to teach 3- to 8-year-olds the basics of programming, has surpassed $500,000 on Kickstarter with two days left in its funding period. In the process, it has become the most-backed tabletop game ever on the service, according to its creator Dan Shapiro.

Shapiro is a digital entrepreneur who sold his startup, Sparkbuy, to Google and then started working for the company. He recently took a leave of absence and spent the summer more fully developing Robot Turtles.

Although there are no robots in the game per se, it teaches kids concepts that are fundamental to robotics. In the game, players move their pieces by placing cards face up one at a time to direct their turtles, essentially creating a simple program. If the turtle doesn’t behave as expected, players can “debug” the program and try again. It’s modeled after the educational programming language Logo, which famously gave computer users control over a graphical “turtle” (in reality, a tiny green triangle).

The advantage of Robot Turtles is that no computer is required, and Shapiro proudly notes that players don’t even need to know how to read in order to play. He says the game helps teach kids how to express complicated thoughts using limited syntax, an essential part of computer programming.

Currently, more than 11,000 people have backed the project, pushing it well past its original goal of $25,000 for an initial run of 1,000 games (the minimum factory order required).

For a complete description of the game or to support the project and get your own copy, go to the Robot Turtles Kickstarter page before the funding period ends on Friday at 8 p.m. Eastern in the U.S.

[ photo and video courtesy of Robot Turtles ]

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