Microsoft's Kodu Cup Contest Rewards Underage Game Developers

Today Microsoft fully launches its kid-friendly PC game development tool Kodu Game Lab, along with a contest that could win your child $5,00 cash, a new laptop, and a trip for two to New York's Imagine Cup.

We got our first look at Microsoft's Kodu Game Lab back in 2009, finding it to be a "spiffy tool" for anyone considering going into game design. Now that spiffy tool is widely available, with Microsoft encouraging kids 9-17 to give game development a go with the Kodu Cup Video Game Design Competition.

The rules are relatively simple. Children in two age groups, 9-12 and 13-17, can download the Kodu Game Lab free, design their game, and submit it to the contest. The contest began on March 11, and final entries are due by May 10. There is a one game per child limit, so make it count.

Winners will be chosen based on equal parts innovation, fun factor, production quality, and presentation. The game with the highest score wins the grand prize.

What is the grand prize? How about a trip for two to New York to attend Microsoft's Imagine Cup youth technology event, $5,000 cash, a 250GB Xbox 360 with Kinect, a Toshiba Satellite laptop, and a trophy? That's enough to get any parent standing over their child with a stern look on their face as they slave away at the computer.

The first prize winner gets a laptop. Second prize scores a 16GB Zune. Yay.

There's also a prize for your child's school, and simply entering the contest could score you one of four copies of Microsoft Office Professional 2010.

"Today's kids have a natural passion for video games and video game design," said Michael H. Levine, Ph.D., executive director of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. "Microsoft's Kodu Cup is a great way to harness that passion and apply it in a way that helps improve academic achievement, skills and interest in the careers of the future, which are going to fuel our country."

Let us use that passion to help our children win $2,500! Wait, they told you $5,000, little Jimmy? Must have been a typo *tucks money in back pocket*

I'm going to be an awesome dad.

Microsoft's Kodu Cup [Official Website]