by KELLY GUSICH | photo by Zeena Gregg Photography

Computer Wizard

Have you ever been playing a video game and not liked the way things work? Dissatisfied with the characters or their capabilities? Most people deal with this issue by waiting for a new version, or picking another type. Not if you are Brendan Burns. If your name is Brendan Burns, you simply modify the existing game, or maybe you create an entirely better game. And you do this by starting with simple building games at age 8, and by learning three different computer programming languages (LUA, JAVA, RPG Maker VX Ace) by the end of 7th grade.

Brendan Burns, not surprisingly, aspires to own his own video game company one day. Even though he’s only 13 years old, his family support, interests and background place him square on the road to success. He’s been attending The Warren Walker School since 1st grade (“It is extremely challenging and I love it!”), and has been an Honor Roll student throughout. His family moved to Carmel Valley eight months ago so he can try to attend Canyon Crest Academy (CCA). CCA would allow him to immerse himself in programming and robotics within the curriculum as well as extra-curricular activities.

Brendan wants to attend Stanford “because they have the most successful technology companies formed by students.”

One of the ways Brendan pursues his goals (and his fun) is through modifications of existing games. He runs his very own server ‘in the cloud’ where he crafts changes in Minecraft and inserts them into the game so he and his friends can enjoy the different version. Life is not all seeds, mobs and enchanting, though. He loves history and will read his textbook or research history on the internet for fun, as well as being fluent in Spanish and playing the clarinet in Honor Band.

He is clearly about programming, though. He attended his first adult technology course at UC San Diego at the age of 11. “He learned the LUA programming language and in only twenty-four hours had programmed a bug-free video game of his own making,” said one of his professors. “We have never witnessed a student master a programming language so quickly.” His robotics instructor, Victor Ciccarelli, is amazed at Brendan’s ability. “He has a natural gift for computers and is obviously going to have a very bright future in this field.”

Brendan wants to attend Stanford University “because they have the most successful technology companies formed by students.”



Name: Brendan Burns (13)
School: The Warren-Walker School
Grade: 8
Parents: Kevin and Mistie Burns
Awards: Accepted into Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth Program since the age of 10, 5th Grade Graduation Information Technology Award, Honor Band-Clarinet, Honor Roll at Warren-Walker School, and an Outstanding Junior Achievement Award for completing a record number of four JA courses in one year.
Favorite Local Spot: Torrey Pines Beach