Regex Runner: a game to teach regular expressions to kids

Last December, I wrote a column suggesting that games would be a great way to teach kids Regular Expressions, a part of the world of programming that surfaces in tons of non-expert applications, like word processors.

Now, Sal writes, "For my Computer Games course project, I used your article regarding reg-exp to try to make an educational game, there's already SO many academic papers and books on this area it's overwhelming. Rather than read up and design something based on researched principles, I thought instead about what game I was playing most on my phone and I decided those "always running" type games (Temple Run/Canabalt etc) are super cool. Using that mechanic as a template, I shoehorned in some letters and symbols and played around with a randomly generated grid and a couple of sprites. If I had time, I'd adapt it to have more meanies, sub-games, increased difficulty, and more regex symbols to use, but as it is right now it kinda gets the point across which is simply; to match the shown keyword in any way you want (but you get more style points for using regex) so sure, you can spell "cat" using "c","a","t", but you can also match it with "\w+" or "c\w." or "..." etc. I just need to finish off writing the paper now which is boring bit, many of pages of sequence diagrams will need to be drawn and many people quoted and Harvard referenced..."

Regex Runner

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