Game Design Workshops

Youth game design workshop in progress

Hands-on game design workshops are a fun and effective way of of engaging youth around game design and for introducing basic game design concepts, techniques and resources. The organizers of the STEM Challenge have presented workshops to students from the elementary through the collegiate level, as well as for educators wishing to learn game design as part of their ongoing professional development.

What is a Game Design Workshop?

At the 2012 Games For Change Festival in New York City, the team behind Gamestar Mechanic (one of the presenting partners for the STEM Challenge) presented an introductory game design workshop to several hundred festival attendees. The presentation follows many of the best practices we use when presenting youth workshops for the STEM Challenge and the recommendations we make for organizing your own workshops below.

Organizing Your Own Youth Game Design Workshop

We recommend structuring workshops around a combination of informational content, hands-on and digital game design activities. We’ve prepared a set of recommendations for planning, organizing and conducting youth game design workshops especially for mentors who are new to game design, including a sample workshop agenda.

Download the Hands-on Workshop Guide PDF

Introductory Material

Our Mentor Resource Kit includes a presentation that can serve as an introduction to the STEM Challenge and to game design for adult mentors, but also as an effective component of a introductory workshop for young people.

Hands-On Game Design Activities

We tend to organize our introductory workshops around a sequence of hands-on, physical game design exercises. These are exercises where the participants are somehow engaged in the design of physical games (such as board games or sports) as opposed to digital games.

We’ve prepared Activity Plans for three introductory hands-on game design activities. We selected these activity plans because they require no prior game design experience or access to technology.

  • Rock, Paper, Scissors — introducing the key elements of game systems through a familiar physical game: PDF
  • Game Modding — Exploring game design and games by analyzing and modifying a game or sport: PDF
  • Game Kit — Work in teams to create an original game using found objects: PDF

Pitching a Game Idea

Having designers pitch their game ideas — being able to describe a game idea quickly, clearly and in a way that gets the audience interested in and excited about it — is a great way for them to get feedback on their concept to help guide future design and development work.

If you’re interested in having your young designers work on game pitches as part of their workshops, we’ve prepared this guides to help them get started:

Game Pitch Guide for Young Designers PDF

Workshops In Your Area

Check out the ‘Upcoming Events’ sidebar and our full Calendar of Events for information on events happening in your area, as well as virtual events happening online.