Wed, May 26, 2010
The Straits Times
Internet abuzz over techno prodigies

By Tan Weizhen

TEENS and youngsters are not just downloading games or mobile applications.

They are also developing them.

From coming up with hot iPhone applications and online games right down to the serious stuff - server management, a small group of very young Singaporeans are making headway in this potentially lucrative market.

Since Lim Ding Wen, 10, made headlines last year for being the world's youngest iPhone developer, three others have also emerged as young but promising technophiles.

Take 13-year-old Ryan Lee who, after spending a year self-learning a game programming language, has created 33 online games.

Teens Xavier Lur, 16, and Zhou Tong, 15, have taken their skills to the next level - server management and open source software.

All these techno prodigies have something in common - they started using computers at a young age.

Since Ding Wen was two, he knew how to boot a PC, use a mouse and run software, said his father, Mr Lim Thye Chean, 41. He had learnt an impressive nine programming languages since he was seven.

It is the same story for Ryan, whose father, Mr Nicholas Lee, 41, said that his son started playing simple computer games when he was just two, dabbled with basic animation software in Primary 1, and then graduated to Adobe Flash animation software by Primary 3.

Although these efforts may have not translated to monetary rewards as yet, it has garnered much attention from the Internet community.

Ding Wen's first iPhone application, Doodle Kids, has hit more than 680,000 downloads. Recently converted to run on Apple's hottest new gadget, the iPad, it became the 28th most-downloaded application on the iPad App Store's entertainment chart.

Both titles are free to download.

His second game, Invader War, for the iPhone, has attracted about 3,000 downloads.

To date, young Ding Wen has made more than 20 applications, primarily for the iPhone, Google Android and PCs.

Not bad for someone who has yet to take his PSLE.

'After writing a game, and I see it run very well, I feel very happy,' said the Primary 4 pupil, who likes to swim, play games, and 'talk to (his) father about programming', when he is not busy developing games at the computer.

>> Next: It takes from one day to nearly a year to complete each application.

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