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.
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:
The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Game Design Special Interest Group recently held a Mentor “Ask Me Anything (AMA)” with Game Writers in conjunction with the National STEM Video Game Challenge. Teachers and students throughout the United States contributed questions about the process of writing original video games. The expert panel moderated by Felix Wilhelmy featured: Sheri […]
The National STEM Video Game Challenge today announced the winners of the 2017 competition. This year’s winners include 23 middle and high school students who submitted original video games and game design concepts in platforms including GameMaker, Gamestar Mechanic, Scratch, and Unity. Presented by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media, […]