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Library Programs: Video Game Design for Teens

They whys & hows of getting your own Video Game Design program up and running!
by

Trevor Oakley

on 11 April 2015

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Transcript of Library Programs: Video Game Design for Teens

trevor oakley
teen services librarian
saratoga springs public library Economic reality of video games:
it's a recession-resistant industry In 2011, consumers spent
$24.75 BILLION
on video games! target audience:
The gamers are the game makers...

so...who are the gamers? The average U.S. household owns at least ONE
game console, PC, or smartphone. 49% own a dedicated game console...those that do own TWO! 53% of gamers are male
47% female (was 58% - 42%) Big questions to answer / issues:
WHY? (justification)
$$COST (software / hardware / staff time)
R.O.I. want new library users, newsworthy
& innovative library programming! Nails MANY Developmental Assets: Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning Domains:

“Cognitive Domain” --> SYNTHESIS

Putting ideas together in a new product or plan. Cognitive domain/synthesis associated cues:

...create, invent, compose, predict, organize, plan, construct, design, modify, imagine, elaborate, combine, original, change, adapt, suppose, improve, produce, set up, “what if...” *Other Adult Relationships
*Community Values Youth
*Adult Role Models
*Creative Activities
*Youth Programs
*Planning and Decision Making
*Interpersonal Competence
*Positive View of Personal Future Synthesis, when applied to offering video game design workshops to young people in the library potentially allows students to operate at a high function (powered up), in a social environment, working on real-world problems/solutions, with a potential future economic impact...to the tune of $24.75 billion. Daniel H. Pink: Drive
three elements of success:

AUTONOMY:
wired to be active & engaged, rather than passive and inert, autonomous individuals not individual automatons

MASTERY: activity is its own reward, work becomes play, the oxygen of the soul

PURPOSE: deep motivation = hitched to a cause larger than the self Critical thinking: game design helps bring curiosity and inquiry-based learning into the fold.

Teens are required to step outside of their own experiences and “think like a player.” Multiliteracy: game design requires traditional literacy skills (“game spec”, story), visual/fine arts (sound, music, graphics), interpersonal skills (in the “real world” game design is all team-based). Bottom line:
“I want to design video games when I grow up.” Or rather: “I want to design video games as a career."

Getting older is mandatory. Growing up is optional! Libraries traditionally offer teen programming on topics like: comic book art, poetry, music...
...and other creative in-response-to-and-in-support-of “I want to do XYZ as a career” areas.

We also develop our collections (fiction AND non-fiction) to support these programs and interests (this should have been your first thought this morning: how I develop my collection to support gamers/game designers)

Video game design should [MUST] be viewed the same way. When & where did/do players get the desire & opportunity to take the
power of game creation into their own hands? Genesis of user-created gaming: popular 1990’s PC games (Quake, Doom, Duke Nukem 3D) allowed users to create their own levels to expand the worlds of these games.

AKA "Modding" Non-linear games have evolved, putting level creation in players’ hands. Instead of simply expanding the existing world through modding, users are responsible for (and often expect to have a role in) creating the game world. Examples: Minecraft, Terraria, Little Big Planet, Scribblenauts (totally caffeinated creative problem solving!!), Drawn to Life.

Potentially offers infinite replay value for the gaming dollar (and may be better for your brain?) The Game Design Lab Program: The WHAT and HOW Game Design needs:

COMPUTERS. Free software. BASIC COMPUTING SKILLS

Time (most scarce, non-renewable resource). So, pretend you’re teaching the class.

First activity: what makes a game...a game? Simple mathematics:
In general, a game graphs at a 45 degree angle.

X axis = progress.
Y axis = difficulty AND reward(s) Once your students are thinking like a game designer, inform them of this: the game designer’s ultimate responsibility is to advocate for the player.
ADVOCATE FOR THE PLAYER!
ADVOCATE FOR THE PLAYER!
ADVOCATE FOR THE PLAYER!
ADVOCATE FOR THE PLAYER! What is written without effort is in general read [played!] without pleasure.–Samuel Johnson

At its core, the game spec is a written document (outline) that spells out what the designer intends the game to be.

All games should begin here.

Can be as simple as listing game objects, sounds, control scheme, game flow, and # of levels.

Great place to introduce basic traditional literacy element. Can be much more involved:

Executive overview -- narrative of the game story

History and background of the world -- what the world looks like & why

Flowchart -- for the entire game! Keep track of paths & keep the game non-linear

Character bios & descriptions

Scripts of character interactions

Storyboard & script (similar to that of a movie script & storyboard) FINALLY...the software!
the following game creation programs have been used with groups of teens in a computer lab, with 1.5 hours of time to go through a basic tutorial and allow time for play, exploration, individual instruction, and show ‘n’ tell (look what I can do!!) All programs had to meet the following criteria:

Free to download / use / try.
Free of any spyware/malware.
Does not require any script, code, etc. to get started. (WYSIWYG)
Readily available tutorials
I can learn the basics in 1-3 hours and feel confident teaching these basics to a group...then teach them how to find advanced instruction. Some important terminology you'll encounter & need to know for game design:

Sprites, objects, behaviors, and object interaction
-- cornerstone of all games --

Sprites -- raw graphic made up of pixels

Object -- sprite that’s given “something to do”

Behaviors -- what objects are told to do

Interaction -- what different object sprites do based on their assigned behaviors during a game event. SCRATCH
http://scratch.mit.edu/
Developed by MIT & favored by educators.
Cost: Free

“Scratch is a programming language that makes it easy to create your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art -- and share your creations on the web.

As young people create and share Scratch projects, they learn important mathematical and computational ideas, while also learning to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively.” Compatibility: Mac, Windows, Ubuntu

Time to learn basics: 1-2 hours.

Tutorials & support: plentiful on SCRATCH site.

Pros: does the most to teach programming & design concepts and get kids to think like a programmer. Can apply SCRATCH to “real world” when beginning learning Java, etc. One of the best/easiest to learn for the "noob" game design program instructor

Cons: Some teens have said it lacks “fun factor” and “takes too long to not do much.” (Welcome to the almost real world of programming) Game Maker Lite (latest release, 8.1)
http://www.yoyogames.com/
Cost: Free to use Lite vers. $39.99 for full vers.

“Many students enjoy GameMaker because of its ease of use and teaching staff state it is a great product to implement problem-based, project-based and inquiry-based learning into the educational curriculum. It's easy to use drag and drop system is ideal for beginners right through to advanced users.” Compatibility: Windows, Mac
Time to learn basics: 2-4 hours.
Tutorials & support: available on developer site & wikis. Developer site a real mess to navigate. Direct link to tutorials: http://sandbox.yoyogames.com/make/tutorials
Pros: focuses on creating full games while drilling concepts of object behaviors into users. Good for “one-shot” workshop. “Catch the Ghost” tutorial complete & customizable, and most students will have a full game in 1-2 hours. Great at demonstrating the game graph.
Cons: interface can be confusing & daunting. May be time intensive for staff to learn. Platinum Arts Sandbox 3D
http://www.sandboxgamemaker.com/
Cost: Free

“Platinum Arts Sandbox Free 3D Game Maker is a 3D game maker based on the Cube 2 engine that allows users to quickly and easily create and edit their own worlds in game, even cooperatively. It is free, open-source, and easy to use for kids and adults.” Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux
Time to learn basics: 1-2 hours
Tutorials and support: wiki, forum, YouTube, Google searching (I used YouTube)

Pros: It’s in 3D! Looks cool and teaches users to think in 3 dimensions. Focuses on world building.

Cons: creating full games requires coding, creating/importing models. Finding resources/help requires wading through tons of content. May disappoint users who, in your limited instruction time, want to create first person shooters & blow stuff up. Games Factory 2 (Demo vers.)
http://www.clickteam.com/website/usa/the-games-factory-2.html
Cost: Free demo. $59 full version. The developers call Games Factory 2 their “introductory product.” Their other, more robust, products are $119 & $369.

The Games Factory 2's simpler interface and controls can be a great way for adults and children to get started in the fun, educational, and rewarding, world of Click creation!

The Games Factory 2 provides everything you need to manufacture Arcade games, Platform games, Adventures, Screen Savers, and much, much, more. You simply click on an object, drag it to the play field, and click on the action it should perform. We supply all the heroes, monsters, powerups, and other objects you need, plus the sound and music for your games. Of course, you can easily add your own, custom items if you choose. Compatibility: Windows only
Time to learn basics: 1 hour
Tutorials and support: Atari “Breakout” clone tutorial pdf included with download (along with all necessary sprites, sounds, etc.). Other tutorials available on developer’s site.
Pros: Easy to learn & easy to teach. Students can have a fully functioning game made in about an hour. Great for a “one-shot” video game design lab program.
Cons: Limited demo. Users looking to advance need to purchase full version. 3D RAD
http://www.3drad.com/
Cost: Free (commercial license included for free as well!!!)
My personal favorite program to use/teach. Offers great balance of fun/cool & game design concept instruction.

“Create 3D game content by visually placing intelligent objects together! Learning how to make a 3D Game has never been faster!” Compatibility: Windows
Time to learn basics: 15 minutes - 1 hour
Tutorials and support: massive amount of well organized information found on developer web site, wiki, and own YouTube channel. Developer’s forum a wealth of information.
Pros: free, very robust, fun, easy to use, looks cool, tons of useful information available. (Can you tell I love this thing?) Advanced users can import their own models from Google SketchUp (also free!)
Cons: haven’t found many. Occasional glitch may confuse/frustrate users. goals and objectives

conflict(s)

reward(s)

rules

story / situation / scenario

PLAYER(S) (they always miss this one!) X Y Entertainment Software Association. "Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry." ESA_EF_2012. Entertainment Software Association, 2012. Web. 17 Aug. 2012. <http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2012.pdf>. Entertainment Software Association. "Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry." ESA_EF_2012. Entertainment Software Association, 2012. Web. 17 Aug. 2012. <http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2012.pdf>. Entertainment Software Association. "Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry." ESA_EF_2011. Entertainment Software Association, 2011. Web. 31 Oct. 2011. <http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2011.pdf> "40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents | Search Institute." Discovering What Kids Need to Succeed | Search Institute. Search Institute. Web. 31 Oct. 2011. <http://www.search-institute.org/content/40-developmental-assets-adolescents-ages-12-18>. "Bloom's Taxonomy." George Mason University Classweb. Web. 31 Oct. 2011. <http://classweb.gmu.edu/ndabbagh/Resources/Resources2/bloomstax.htm>. Pink, Daniel H. Drive: the Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. New York, NY: Riverhead, 2009. Print. Overmars, Mark. GM Tutorial - Designing Games.pdf. Overmars, Mark. GM Tutorial - Designing Games.pdf. Http://sandbox.yoyogames.com/make/tutorials. PDF., 23 Dec. 2009. PDF. Overmars, Mark. GM Tutorial - Designing Games.pdf. Overmars, Mark. GM Tutorial - Designing Games.pdf. Http://sandbox.yoyogames.com/make/tutorials. PDF., 23 Dec. 2009. PDF. works cited:

Entertainment Software Association. "Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry." ESA_EF_2012. Entertainment Software Association, 2012. Web. 17 Aug. 2012. <http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2012.pdf>.

"40 Developmental Assets for Adolescents | Search Institute." Discovering What Kids Need to Succeed | Search Institute. Search Institute. Web. 31 Oct. 2011. <http://www.search-institute.org/content/40-developmental-assets-adolescents-ages-12-18>.

"Bloom's Taxonomy." George Mason University Classweb. Web. 31 Oct. 2011. <http://classweb.gmu.edu/ndabbagh/Resources/Resources2/bloomstax.htm>.

Pink, Daniel H. Drive: the Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us. New York, NY: Riverhead, 2009. Print.

Overmars, Mark. GM Tutorial - Designing Games.pdf. Overmars, Mark. GM Tutorial - Designing Games.pdf. Http://sandbox.yoyogames.com/make/tutorials. PDF., 23 Dec. 2009. PDF. GO FORTH...AND MAKE SOME GAMES!

QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS? The average game player's age is:
30!

32% are under 18
31% are 18-35
37% 36+
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