By Noah Munck
Whenever I tell people I grew up in Orange County, they assume I’m a really good surfer. I’m not. My Xbox avatar; however, is an excellent athlete.
Yes, I’m a self-proclaimed gaming nerd - and proud of it. Growing up the oldest of five children, I thoroughly enjoyed every opportunity to dominate in games against my brothers and sisters. It wasn’t all competitive, though – video games also got the whole family together, one of the few activities we could all agree on.
I think back to playing games with my family just a few years ago, and I’m amazed at some of the things companies have come up with since then. There are singing games. There are dancing games. There are sports games, action games, and educational games. There are even games that don’t require a controller. You can even create and play your own game.
I’ve recently been reviewing some of these homemade video games in my role as a judge for the 2012 National STEM Video Game Challenge – and I’m truly impressed by what these young gamers have come up with using programs like Microsoft’s Kodu. The whole idea behind the Challenge is brilliant – students learn basic programming skills that will help them get jobs in a way that’s fun and engaging.
Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook, Andrew Mason from Groupon, Pete Cashmore from Mashable, even Carly Shay of iCarly – young tech-savvy minds are behind some of the best products out there. For young Americans to keep innovating like this, we need to foster talent as early as possible – which is why competitions like the STEM Video Game Challenge are so important. Who knows – maybe I’ll be playing one of the winning games on my Xbox in the near future.
Noah Munck is an actor on TV's iCarly and avid video gamer. He is serving as a judge in the 2012 National STEM Video Game Challenge. For more information, visit www.stemchallenge.org.