I teach a technology class for grades 6 - 8 at my daughter’s school. Every student at the school takes my class, which to date has been pretty much just using Scratch. 80% of the children want to dive right into creating some kind of combat game where things shoot and get blown up. I get it, that was what I wanted to do when I was their age. I think it is important to be inclusive in an environment where a class is mandatory for all, so I always include game assignments around less killing-oriented options like racing games and platformers. 80% of them build some kind of ninja vs. SWAT team battle with an extraordinary focus on complex animated explosions, but the other 20% do some really cool things too that tell stories or solve puzzles with no death required.
Is it better to have a design focus on something that you can make really great (combat), even if that alienates 20% of your potential audience? Is the alternative a kind of milquetoast watered down experience that is totally politically correct and boring? Or is there a way to design the levels with a death-free path available to achieve the same learning objectives?