On Thursday 16th June 2011, I ran a workshop on creating video games as part of a STEM summer camp organized in Waterford Institute of Technology by CALMAST (Centre for the Advancement of Learning of Maths, Science and Technology). The group included 14 secondary schools students with no or little background in Computer Science. The workshop consisted of an introduction to GameMaker, a free 2D game engine, followed by a project whereby they had to construct their own game. The workshop lasted for 8 hours, with breaks in the morning, afternoon and for lunch. The workshop was organized around the them of pac-man. Students were introduced to GameMaker, including: graphical interface, designing a level, creating sprites, objects and rooms, moving objects, collecting objects, displaying score and lives, creating variables, modifying variables, conditional statements, etc. This experience was extremely inspiring:
- Students were extremely engaged in the creation process. They were willing to learn new concepts in order to improve their game. During the breaks, the majority of students insisted on staying in the classroom in order to work on their project.
- The majority of them had little or no computing background, but concretely applied some simple programing concepts without realizing it.
- Most students took their project at home in the view to improve it and possibly publish it on the yoyogames website.
- Collaborative patterns appeared after few hours. Some students had become “experts” and where helping their peers. Students were also evaluating each-others’ project, providing feedback.
- Many students developed their ICT skills by creating/editing sprites for their games using GameMaker build in editor.