I enjoyed your article on gaming, and I've wondered this myself with my
almost-10-year-old, who says he wants to be an engieer like Dad, and so
I've selfishly thought of some ways to keep him interested in technology.
My thoughts are that he may be a bit young to get into the hardware like the
Parallax Hydra kit, but he may be able to tackle some "game" programming, if
the graphics are "simple enough". Where I may lead him is to play with
some VRML coding, since: (1) the graphics are as simple or as complicated as you want, since you can imbed other folk's geometry or build your own; (2)
see fit; (3) plug-ins to browsers for viewing 3D stuff is a free download;
(4) any old text editor is your programming tool, since the ASCII files are
read into the plug-in for viewing.
We use this approach quite a bit for graphics rendering at work, and my thoughts are to work with him on creating a flight sim plus shoot-em-up, which he could expand into a multiplayer game his friends could play when they come over. If it materializes, I'll let you know. The key thing, though, is the investment cost is your time and zero cash.
Continuum Dynamics, Inc.
Ewing, New Jersey