Programming Class Recreates ’80’s Video Games


Freshman Staven Guerro is designing an island as part of the programming class.

Lily Reavis, Hedgehog Girl

We all know that Manitou Springs High School is a very high-tech institution. Every student knows how to handle an iPad and has one of their own. Most in-class projects involve the online design of a presentation, and every classroom is equipped with a flat-screen T.V. For a 3A school, much of this is practically unheard of. However, Manitou has now gone even further.

Steven Blocher primarily teaches math, but his real background is in the computer sciences. He runs an after-school video game club and is teaching a special course called “Programming” for the second year. In the school’s computer lab, students are taught the basics of game design.

Late in the afternoon, every student is hard at work. Some students are digitally doodling, designing islands and things called “sprites”, some are testing games, two kids are competing against each other in a program they created together. What might look like play to an outsider is what they call work.

Students who play the hardest and earn a grade of a B or above can actually earn three credits at PPCC for the work they’ve done in class. It’s part of an articulation agreement between the high school and the college. For $10, the student is given credit for the CSC 126 course on an official PPCC transcript.

This past week though, the class finished a peculiar project.

“My programming class recently completed a three week long project where they were tasked to re-create an 80’s arcade game,” explained Blocher. The students were given three weeks and the programming software “GameMaker” to complete this assignment. In the end, there was a remake of flappy bird, a spin-off of Robotron called “Hobo-Tron”, and, of course, there was a new form of the classic Pac-Man.

One game however, stuck out to Blocher. It was a remake of Tetris, designed by senior Nels Anderson. Every aspect of the game was created by Anderson, and its end product can actually be played on an Apple Mac computer. This YouTube video shows each piece the design took, along with a file that can be opened if you wish to play the game.

Anderson says that he plans to go to college at CU-Boulder and major in Computer Science. “The class definitely helps, and I’d recommend it completely.”

Blocher designed a web page to display some of the games made by the class. By going there, you can easily download the game file and play it, though it will only work on platforms with Adobe Flash installed- that is, it won’t work on the iPad.

This is linked below.

 This class serves to remind us that Manitou may be small, but it will never stop striving for excellence.

Download and Play Some of the Games Here

By Lily Reavis