Brooklyn designer’s board game, Code Monkey Island, teaches programming basics

code monkey island
Raj Sidhu plays Code Monkey Island, a board game he created to help kids learn how to code.
Credit: Aaron Adler/Metro

Kids can’t just monkey around with this board game.

Code Monkey Island, developed by Brooklyn-based designer Raj Sidhu, helps teach children 8 and older basic programing concepts, from control and data structures to Boolean logic.

“Everything is starting to become reliant on some form of software,” the 23-year-old Williamsburg resident said. “Being able to manipulate the world around you and understanding how the tools that you’re using work is just as important as reading and writing and basic math skills.”

Hoping to make programming “child’s play” for the next generation, Sidhu launched a Kickstarter campaign on Wednesday to crowdfund the initial manufacturing of Code Monkey Island.

The game is straightforward: Players move a tribe of monkeys around an island using two types of cards with conditional statements, such as “For each monkey NOT on a rock, move 3 spaces.”

code monkey island 1
In Code Monkey Island, players use cards with conditional phrases to move a tribe of monkeys around an island.
Credit: Aaron Adler/Metro

“It’s a fairly simple concept for us to grasp, but for children it’s a pretty important logical hurdle to leap,” Sidhu said. Boolean logic — essentially, determining whether something is true or false — is incredibly important for programmers, he said.

Sidhu, who works at New York startup Quirky, learned how to code in college. But long, academic lectures on logical theories were far from stimulating.

“I wanted to turn that on its head and present that in a language that even kids could understand,” he said.

Unlike computer programs and apps that teach programming concepts, Sidhu said a board game is more hands-on.

“It’s a great way to get parents involved with that learning process and encourage kids to keep going as a result,” he said.

code monkey island
Elementary school students play Code Monkey Island last month.
Credit: Photo courtesy of Raj Sidhu

Sidhu began developing the game in January and has already put together a Code Monkey Island prototype, complete with hand-painted monkey pieces made with a 3-D printer.

A representative at WinGo Games said the company is willing to manufacture Code Monkey Island once enough funds are raised. Through the Kickstarter campaign, Sidhu aims to have 1,000 games made. 

After playing Code Monkey Island with his adult friends, Sidhu reached out to the principal at Little Red School House in Greenwich Village. A handful of elementary students at the school played the game in April.

In a video on the game’s Kickstarter, the children are seen grinning as they play cards to get their monkeys around the island and into the banana grove. One boy tells Sidhu he would buy the “awesome” game.

“It’s much different when a kid is playing it,” Sidhu said. “They have a lot more thoughts.”

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter @AnnaESanders


MAP: New York City Street Closures August 22,…

The Percy Sutton Harlem 5K and NYC Family Health Walk-a-thon and Pakistan Day Parade and Fair will cause traffic delays and street closures in New York City this weekend. Plan…


U.N. nuclear inquiry on Iran seen making slow…

The U.N. nuclear watchdog appears to have made only limited progress so far in getting Iran to answer questions about its suspected atomic bomb research, diplomatic sources said on Friday,…


Violence-weary Missouri town sees second night of calm

By Nick Carey and Carey GillamFERGUSON Mo. (Reuters) - The violence-weary town of Ferguson, Missouri, saw a second straight evening of relative calm on Thursday…


Journalist James Foley's parents, after call with pope,…

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist killed by Islamic State militants in Iraq, on Friday called for prayer and support to free the remaining captives held by Islamic…


Recap: 'The Knick,' Season 1, Episode 3, 'The…

The third episode of Steven Soderbergh's "The Knick" finds Dr. Thackery (Clive Owen) meeting an old flame and other characters embracing self-destruction.


Webcast: Watch Polyphonic Spree live on Sunday Aug.…

Polyphonic Spree singer Tim DeLaughter sits with Metro Music Editor Pat Healy for a chat and then the big band performs live. It begins on Sunday at 9:30 pm


Matthew Weiner on directing 'Are You Here' and…

"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner discusses his movie "Are You Here," his history writing comedy and the tiny movie he directed in 1996 you can't see.


Michael Chiklis on his football past and 'When…

Michael Chiklis remembers playing football in high school and how that prepped him to play a coach in "When the Game Stands Tall."


3 things we learned about the Giants in…

The Giants claimed the Snoopy trophy in a battle of MetLife Stadium tenants Friday night. But more importantly, the offense finally showed some life in…


3 things we learned about the Jets in…

The Jets lost the Snoopy Bowl, 35-24, to the Giants, losing the trophy and local bragging rights.


Fantasy football draft guide: How to draft your…

Many are wondering if we’re entering a new age in fantasy football drafting — one where running backs take a backseat.


Jets vs. Giants: 3 Giants storylines to watch

The Giants have plenty to work on as they reach the dress rehearsal preseason game Friday night against the rival Jets.


Asics is giving away free gear around NYC…

Asics wants to see you on the court - and in the stands for the U.S. Open, which begins Monday - by giving away free…


Big weddings may lead to long-term happiness

Dreaming of a big wedding? A new study indicates that the longer your guest list, the happier you’ll be in the long run. l A…


Online dating for every generation

Frank Jackson and his mother Maggie are like lots of modern families: They have dinner together regularly, keep each other updated on their lives —…


Going green could be the key to getting…

If we could just pursue the things that would actually make us happy, we could help the environment too, according to a New York researcher.…