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Nintendo Labo has a secret ‘Garage’ mode to get kids into coding

NINTENDO WANTS to get kids into programming with a ‘Garage’ mode for its cardboard-centric Labo system.

While Nintendo Labo has yet to hit the shops, the Japanese gaming giant has this week confirmed the inclusion o a mode that allows kids, and indeed adults, to effectively reprogramme Labo designs to make their own.

According to Nintendo, the Garage mode is hidden in all Labo software whereby users can “invent their own Toy-Con”, essentially meaning they can create their own cardboard accessories to go with the Switch hybrid console.

Programming can be tricky for the uninitiated and for people who don’t know code. But the Garage mode uses a simple input-output system which allows users to combine a number of Joy-Con controller or Switch touchscreen actions, such as a movement or button press, and have them deliver a specific output.

Garage looks to get across the programming principle of doing something to make something else happen, with users encouraged to mix and match input and output nodes.

But Garage goes further, not only encouraging Labo players to create their own Toy-Cons, but also to experiment with combining Toy-Cons – for example, using the fishing rod accessory to control a cardboard robot.

The whole system looks rather simple yet elegant to use and could to be another way to get kids interested in programming.

Not only does Garage position Nintendo as a company that wants to inspire creativity through games, it could also be a gateway to getting children interested in coding, computing and STEM-related subjects.

That’s a pretty big deal as there’s currently a lack of IT skills in the UK, and while coding is now part of the English school curriculums, there’s still a need to make IT an appealing and interesting career path, not just one for cliched ‘nerd’ types.

Nintendo Labo launches in the UK on April 27, so we’ll still have a bit of a wait to see how much of an impact it’ll have on helping put young folks on the path to a tech career. µ

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