Even though we mostly write about video games, this card game caught our interest. Potato Pirates is an educational tabletop game that aims to educate kids on the world of computer programming. As a programmer myself, I wanted first dibs to try it out.
Potato Pirates comes with two decks of cards; ship cards and playing cards as well as a delightful sack of brown pompoms that represent the potato pirates themselves. Each player starts out with 20 pirates (10 on each ship) and five cards from the playing cards deck. At the start of a player's turn, they draw 2 cards and after doing so, they must handle any bugs they may have in their deck before taking any action. If only the real software development world worked this way! To fix the bugs, each player must yell "Potato King!" and the last to yell must give the player two of their potatoes. Next, the player decides if they want to modify their ships while they're anchored or go straight into battle. Modifying a ship can be compared to the process of writing code and going into battle is like executing it.
The deck of player cards includes different programming terms such as if/else statements, for loops, and while loops. To win, you'll want to do maximum damage to your opponents by writing a program that uses loops and if statements strategically. For example, placing a "while > 4" loop card with a "roast 1 potato" card inside of an "if < 4 potatoes" statement will keep damaging opponents until they only have 4 potatoes left (providing you have less than 4 potatoes). The whimsical representation of data as silly potatoes dressed up as pirates will put a smile on your face while you think critically about your next move. You won't be able to help but feel bad for frying or mashing your opponents' potatoes when you look at their cute faces on the cards. The simplicity of the physical simple brown fluffy pompoms also has its own charm and makes it easier to replace if you happen to lose one or two under the couch (like I did).
With there being so many jobs out there in the world of software development, learning the basics of programming at a young age is a great skill to pursue. By playing Potato Pirates, kids who love solving puzzles and building things will gain a solid understanding of what it means to program and be better equipped to take on actual coding tasks. If you feel inclined to learn more about Potato Pirates or make a donation, you can check out their Kickstarter page.