Bits & Bytes explained


Bits and Bytes the card gameThe goal of Bits & Bytes is for each player to guide their character (program) to their home by issuing instructions (turn right, turn left, move forward, turn around). At the same time they have to avoid walls, bugs and the dreaded Seepeeu (pronounced CPU).

Sounds simple, right? But that’s the point.

Children are playing a card game, but at the same time they are creating computer concepts, like algorithms and the sequencing of instructions, and they are learning the invaluable skill of problem solving. And by doing so they are developing a logical mind-set, which is required for coding/programming. By playing Bits & Bytes, children are developing the logical foundations for programming computers, thus when they start to learn actual coding later in life they already have the required mindset. After all, actual coding (programming) is little more than issuing a few instructions to a computer.

Bits and Bytes is simple to play. A game can be played between 2-4 children (adults can also play so don’t be afraid to join in parents) and takes less than five minutes to set up. The basic rules are:

  1. Players select their Program (character)
  2. The “Grid” cards are shuffled together and placed face down in the required format (please see image below for default lay out)
  3. Each players Program is placed in a corner
  4. Players take it in turns issuing instructions to their Program
  5. When a player moves forward they turn over the card (they are about to move on to) and depending on whether the card is blank, a Bug or the dreaded Seepeeu (pronounced CPU) determines what happens next

The game is over when all players have got their Program back to the planet Ram (their home) in the middle.

And that’s it!

As well, the game can be made easier or more complicated (for example, the grid can be 6×6 to make it easier, or you can merge two decks of cards together making the grid larger and the game harder), players can change the impact of the Bug cards and much more.  The only limitation is your child’s imagination.

The default layout of the cards in Bits and Bytes

Not only is Bits and Bytes a fun game for children to play, it also teaches children the fundamentals of computer coding without them even realising they are learning. The benefits of the game are numerous but include:

  • Appeals to a wide range of ages
  • It’s very affordable
  • There is no need to buy an expensive electronic device (i.e.: a computer, a tablet, a remote control device, electronic kit, etc)
  • Children are learning the fundamentals of coding without staring at a screen
  • Encourages creativity
  • Encourages collaboration between players
  • Appeals to a diverse audience – you don’t have to be a geek to play Bits and Bytes
  • Teaches through play-based learning
  • Requires no specific computer coding knowledge on behalf of the teacher, adult or children playing
  • The game has been designed to make children comfortable with computer coding – from understanding how computers actually work, the font used by coding tools and even the terminology
  • Problem solving – Breaking down problems into their components
  • Children learn and understand how a step-by-step process leads to a solution
  • Teaches the sequencing of instructions (and once a child has mastered the game they can create their own programs – just like real coding)
  • Children learn algorithms (an algorithm is a series of ordered steps taken to solve a problem or achieve an objective)
  • Developing a logical mindset
  • and much more.
Example instruction cards used in Bits and Bytes

BitsBytesCardsBut Bits & Bytes provides much more… The back story of the game explains how computers actually work, the font used is commonly found in coding environments, the character names are computer terms. Everything about the game has been designed to make children comfortable with and prepared for coding.

Being a card game Bits & Bytes is incredibly flexible. The default grid (layout of the cards) is 8 x 8, however to make the game easier (or quicker) the grid could be 6 x 6. Once a child has mastered the game it can become more difficult by combining multiple decks together to make the grid larger (i.e. 12 x 12 or 16 x 16). Or they can plan and lay out their program’s steps (instructions) in advance and then move their program through each step. If they encounter a bug they need to debug their instructions and then re-run their program to see if it works – just like actual programmers!

Bits & Bytes is an intuitive, fun game with vibrant characters that appeal to children of all ages.

If you would like to buy a copy of Bits & Bytes then you can buy it now from Amazon.

How the instructions issued in Bits and Bytes would look in computer code

Comments 2

  1. I am wondering if a game like this would be good for my nephew? He is 8 and he’s been diagnosed with HFA (high functioning autism).
    Please let me know what you think.

    Thanks,
    Jonathan

    1. Post
      Author

      Hi Jonathan. One of our supporters is a special needs teacher in secondary school and her feedback is that it is ideal for children with special needs. We haven’t tested specifically on children with HFA but would welcome the feedback if you were to.

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