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Shenzhen I/O

Lower Age: 12+
Price: $14.99
Year Added: 2017

Shenzhen I/O is a video game where the player takes the role of an engineer at an international electronics company, Shenzhen Longteng Electronics Co., Ltd.. The game simulates a corporate desktop computer, from which they are tasked with working alongside fictional “coworkers” to design and program circuits for various clients. The player will go through much of the engineering design process, taking actions such as generating the ideas for a solution, testing their solution, and optimizing their solution to better meet the criteria given to them of low cost and power usage. The player is also constrained by the limitations of the tools given to them; each microcontroller has a limited number of inputs and outputs and a limited amount of memory to store instructions. To achieve a cost-effective solution, the player has to effectively manage these limited resources. Shenzhen I/O is a wonderful engineering game, but potential purchasers should be wary. The game is quite challenging and does not make itself very easily accessible to players who are new to programming. In order to understand the different circuit components and the programming language, players must thoroughly read most of a 47-page manual, and may need to reference it frequently during play. Shenzhen I/O is not recommended for young players or for anyone who is not already very interested in STEM / programming. In order to enjoy Shenzhen I/O, the player needs to be willing to put a lot of effort into learning its systems and into playing, and those hoping to give it as a gift should keep that in mind. If players are ready for the challenge, though, the game stands as an excellent computational puzzle with an immersive narrative and an extremely client-focused setting.


Engineering thinking and design practices the gift encourages children to do or learn about: Make observations, learn about the problem, idea generation, plan a solution, try the solution, create a prototype or process, test the solution, analyze a solution, redesign a solution, make improvements to their solution, refine ideas, recognize patterns, optimize their solution, apply mathematics, apply science


Engineering text or context explicitly provided by the gift: A problem to be solved by developing a new or improved object, tool, or process, a client, a user, criteria, constraints


Additional practices and skills needed by engineers that were addressed by the gift: 

Spatial reasoning skills, coding, computational thinking, critical thinking, creative thinking, programming, evidence-based reasoning, design, problem solving, perseverance, logical thinking



Overall ratings:

  • Children Reviews
    • Rating:  5.0 out of 5.0
    • Feedback: NA
  • Parents Reviews
    • Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0
    • Feedback: NA
  • Engineering & STEM Experts Reviews
    • Rating: 4.5 out of 5.0
    • Feedback:
      • “Shenzhen I/O is a wonderful tool for learning EDT and practicing engineering skills. In Shenzhen I/O, you play the part of an engineer for an electronics company, and are tasked with designing and programming circuit systems for use in various applications. The player is asked to optimize each solution to cost as little as possible and to use as little power as possible (they should use as few components and as few lines of code as they can). The player can even revisit previously solved challenges to optimize them further. The only problem with Shenzhen I/O is its mass-market appeal, which concerns me”
      • “Challenging for all ages recommended to older kids only(the whole game is writing code). Very immersive and entertaining.  Gives you a taste of the real computer engineering industry while still being fun!  The manual was very difficult to learn from unless you already know how to write the code, but once I figured it out it was very fun.  I want to keep playing all day.  The writing is funny and mature!  I love this game so much. The solitaire option is very addicting.”