Doctor Who game teaches kids coding basics

The Doctor and the Dalek is designed to teach kids the basics of Boolean logic-based programming.

The Doctor and the Dalek is designed to teach kids the basics of Boolean logic-based programming.

The BBC has released a new Doctor Who game, The Doctor and the Dalek, that's designed to teach the basics of Boolean logic-based programming, though it's currently only available in the UK.

Commissioned by BBC Learning as part of the UK Government's new IT curriculum, which focuses on modern computer skills, it uses combination of platforming and coding puzzles to introduce players to "if this, then that" type statements, with scoring based on how efficient the player is with commands.

Peter Capaldi, the current incarnation of Doctor Who, lends his voice to the game, and series scribe Phil Ford is responsible for the writing. It follows a reprogrammed Dalek, mentored by the Doctor, as it searches for the Orb of Fates, an ancient and powerful artifact that's being fought over by the Daleks and Cybermen.

"With all that knowledge and expertise we felt confident the game could help demystify basic coding logic and still be lots of fun, but we also knew that putting it in the hands of children and learning from them would be just as important," Jo Pearce, executive producer for BBC Doctor Who Interactive, told Wired.

"With help from pupils in Cardiff, Leeds and Midlothian we put early versions of the game through its paces [which] taught us a lot. For example, we knew that puzzle challenges were a highly effective way of presenting the coding elements, and that the completion of the puzzles must result in a vital reward. You can see that in the final game, with a range of coding puzzles that increase in complexity as users become more advanced."

The Doctor and the Dalek is available on the UK iOS and Android app stores for free, and a browser version is also available, though only to visitors from the UK. We've reached out to BBC to find out if there are any plans for an international release.


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