Week 4:

The end! Our fourth and final week was mostly dedicated to project teams working on their final games and the miscellaneous and sundry logistics associated with that. You’ll have seen their games yourselves by the time you read this, but know that everyone put in a ton of effort into their games! I’m really floored at how quickly every student got up to speed with all the stuff we threw at them (which was a lot!) this last month. All of the students have a lot to be proud of, and I’m super excited that they have the tools in their hands so early to continue making awesome stuff.

Week 3:

This week we got a little more in-depth on lots of topics, from a crash course on artificial intelligence in games to a workshop from local scholar/entrepreneur on concepts related to virtual reality and augmented reality. Students have begun the pre-production phase on their final projects, so we’ve also been trying to do lots of activities centered around that. We made a lot of paper prototypes this week—for final projects, for randomly mutated versions of final projects, and for completely random projects pulled out of a deck of cards. The focus is all about trying to test and iterate game concepts as quickly and early as possible, in a medium where things can be tested and changed easily.

Week 2:

The focus for this week was on tools for making games, or game engines. We started on Monday by talking about Twine, which is a tool for making text-based hypertext games. It shares a lineage with systems like HyperCard, which some of you may be familiar with. Later on in the week, we all worked together to make a massive collaborative project in Twine between all twenty-three students, where everyone made fictional pieces of art to put in a fictional museum.

On Tuesday, we took our field trip to the Boardwalk Arcade! It was a beautiful day, and the sun was shining… so it was perfect weather for being inside. We asked students to play a wide variety of games there, especially ones they wouldn’t normally be drawn to, and to examine them for the values those games espoused.

For the rest of the week we mostly focused on getting started with Unity, which is a very widely used tool for making all sorts of games. It was a lot to take in, but I can already see that they’re getting more comfortable with using the system even after only a few days of making things in it.

Week 1:

Wow, that first week went by fast!

We played a lot of games this week, partially as a way for us to all get to know each other, but also so that we could start picking them apart to figure out what makes them work the way they do, as well as how we can change them to make them work in different ways.

Things started quick with a deep dive into JavaScript this week. It was a steep learning curve! Writing a simple program to play Tic-Tac-Toe on Tuesday seemed daunting at first, but by Friday everyone was crushing it with the code for their original games!

One of the concepts at the forefront of game design is a framework called Mechanics-Dynamics-Aesthetics (MDA), which helps us understand how changes in game rules create changes in player experiences.

Click here for photos!