Ethan Billar 8, shows some excitement as he discovers an easier way to create segments of his video game he is creating during his iD Tech Camp on Arizona State University's campus. June 22, 2011 Darryl Webb/AFN

DARRYL WEBB

Eight-year-olds learning how to design their own video games, really?

What was I doing when I was 8 in the middle of summer here in Arizona? I have no idea since it was so long ago, but if I had to guess I was either watching "Wallace and Ladmo" on Channel 5, or I was outside swinging on a hot, uncovered (from the sun) set of monkey bars, or I was trying to get a pickup baseball game started with my friends.

I sure wasn't designing video games. Heck, I don't think we had Pong back then.

But last Wednesday morning on Arizona State University's campus I watched a home-schooled 8-year-old named Ethan Billar creating his own video game during his week-long iD Visual Arts Academy class.

His nimble little fingers maneuvered the mouse like an old pro as he layered backgrounds, edited images and his fascination wasn't bothered in the slightest by my clicking shutter and lens in his face.

He remained focused on the task at hand, the only sign of a fidget was when he toyed with his lanyard as he answered questions about his project, other than that his game had his total concentration.

During my job as a staff photojournalist I visit a lot of schools and I'm in awe of what kind of talent kids have today.

Whether it's singing and acting, solving integrate math problems, getting up at 5 a.m. to swim or run on their own, or even creating computer programs, kids today are pretty phenomenal.

I never had that focus as a child, but then again I've been told by educational professionals that most photojournalists would be diagnosed with attention deficit disorder if they were in school today because we have such short attention spans, and I know that's especially true for me.

So much so, I had to come right back to the office and pen this column before I lost interest or it might never had gotten done.

Where kids get this knowledge and drive I don't know for sure, what I do know is that they're incredibly accomplished and very inspiring and that's somewhat reassuring knowing that our future is going to be in the hands of these very capable youths when I'm older and still trying to figure out how to adjust the ring tone on my smartphone.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7910 or dwebb@ahwatukee.com

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