UA hosts video game design workshop for local schools
Two faculty members from the School of Information: Science, Technology and Arts have hosted a game design workshop for middle and high school students for the past two weeks at McClelland Park.
The classes were aimed at teaching the fundamental skills and tools used in creating video games. The workshop was hosted by Derek Green and Jane Strohm, a lecturer and researcher from SISTA, respectively.
By the end of each week-long workshop, the students had built a fully functional computerized video game. The class was modeled from an introductory course taught by Green, offered to undergraduates.
Green said the idea for the workshop came from the school’s interest with community involvement, coupled with his own past experiences trying to learn programming.
“SISTA wanted to do some outreach with the community and we figured a lot of kids would be interested in game design,” Green said. “For me, when I was a little guy, about 11-years-old, we had an Apple II Plus and I was trying to learn programming on my own and I never had anybody around who could answer my questions. So it’s a nice thing to do this for other kids who might be in a similar situation.”
Each workshop began with an overview of different games and teaching students how games function on a basic level. Small activities such as board games, card games, and popular video games such as Pac-Man, provided ideas for game design.
“We’ve been really impressed with what they have been able to accomplish in just a few days,” Strohm said. “They are so eager and fearless to just dive in.”
The following days, students learned to modify their games to see how it changes the experience of the game.
The students had a wide variety of game styles for their video games. Some kids made side scrolling shooters, and others made spacecraft games similar to the popular Space Invaders. Some kids even made renditions of their favorite characters in existing video games, like Samus from Metroid Prime, and King Dedede from Kirby.
But the students weren’t the only ones who learned something from the workshop.
“I’ve learned that kids are hugely resilient and are capable of learning a whole lot in a short amount of time,” Strohm said. “I just really had no idea they would be able to accomplish so much in that time frame.”
Strohm and Green said they hope to continue their game design workshop next summer, based on the success they received from all their students.