When I was a kid, video games didn't end the moment I turned off the NES. If I wasn’t holding a controller, I had a pencil in my hand, furiously scribbling out maps of Hyrule or alien caves for Samus to explore in Metroid. But since I didn't know how to code and wasn't much of an artist, those ideas stayed in my notebook, and I never got to explore them on my television.

For kids growing up today, though, that could be different. Last year a project called Pixel Press raised more than $100,000 on Kickstarter in order to build a series of apps with the ambitious goal to let you turn your pen-and-paper drawings into actual video game levels. You simply sketch out an idea on some graph paper, snap a photo with your iPad, and then transport your creation into a level editor where you can flesh it out with power-ups and some added visual flair. It's a compelling idea, especially for someone like me who never bothered to learn coding and hates futzing around with video game level editors. It also sounds outrageously ambitious and more than likely too good to be true.

Today Pixel Press is launching its first app on iPad (with iPhone and Android versions to follow). It’s called Floors, and it focuses exclusively on letting you build Super Mario Bros.-style 2D platforming levels that you can then play and share with others. The crazy thing is that, most of the time, it actually works. And playing a level that was once a pencil sketch feels a bit like magic.