Is visual coding just a game?

Stumbled upon on a comment under one video on YouTube. It made me think is visual coding is really a coding or it’s just a sort of games.

Stefan Van der Vyver wrote:

There is a fundamental problem with making kids learn "coding" by means of visual programming. We have already seen the fallout in Mathematics where the paradigm "make the abstract concrete with visual examples" have backfired spectacularly. Fewer and fewer learners are interested in Maths…. because a function statement is simply so much more complicated that a picture of a pizza cut into four pieces. So they are all onboard until we switch them to the more proper Maths in secondary school. Then they walk away. Because it’s too "hard". It’s not. But it DOES INVOLVE THINKING with other faculties…. which were NOT stimulated during the visual coding process.

Without proper guidance and attention to the process VERY FEW learners actually brain transition from the visual to the abstract…. hence "Scratch for kids". Plus we also have some damage done to their confidence because "why can’t I do this real coding thing"?

In my view the visual programs appeals to the "gamer" side of the brain with the visual stimuli and "gamification" of the learning process. I don’t need anyone to tell me that kids love games. I do too. My daughters as well! But to expect them to "switch" from game-motivated learning to syntactical expressions and abstract thinking simply doesn’t happen.

So I applaud MIT for the creation of Scratch. But I do not believe that we are succeeding in transitioning the learners successfully. I would much rather begin by teaching young kids HTML. Get their minds ready for syntactical expressions. Let them understand objects and properties in the abstract.

Coding is not for everyone. Let those who can apply their minds to it write code. Let the others play games.

When I was 15, I wrote my first program on BASIC. It was just a primitive text editor without syntax highlighting. Each operation like compile, save and load must be made by command line. It’s hard to imagine now what if my first experience was in visual coding. In any case, I’m certainly sure one one thing, that I must be very careful using visual coding in my coding classes for too long. My objective must be to switch student to using text coding as soon as he or she is ready to type the code.