Saturday, October 22, 2011

Designing Games

Friday afternoons in Mr. Mitchell's are usually reserved for student-centered projects that will engage the students in higher-order thinking skills and reinforce collaboration and peer tutoring among the students. This Friday was no exception. The topic was game design. On its face, game design may seem like play. But as you will see in the video, it involves planning, experimentation, revision, collaboration, and testing as well as design aesthetics such as art, sound, and movement. It's a type of visual storytelling that requires considerable thought and ingenuity.

The students are using a free iPad app called My Doodle Game for the first time. App users are given a wide range of control over the visual layout, characters, and actions. It struck me as the students were constructing their first games how much their facility with the iPad helped them in the process. Their imaginations immediately took over, and they helped each other figure out how to perform necessary actions. I did not observe a single student ask Mr. Mitchell for help. Their only requests to him were that he try their game and make suggestions for better play.

Initially, I thought this might have greater appeal to the boys in the class, but that was clearly not the case. I did notice that the boys tended to be more absorbed in actions and game play while the girls generally were more concerned with the visual presentation and storyline. The fact that Mr. Mitchell's students share iPads--most commonly in boy/girl teams--contributed to the large degree of synergy that you'll see in the video. Everyone contributed and everyone learned from each other--and had a good time doing so.

Now that the students are familiar with the principles of game design and with My Doodle Game, they will be able to concentrate on planning more complex story lines and game play. One goal is to have the students create scenarios and storyboards for the next game(s) that they design.

One quick note--the students did finish their Oceans and Division Keynote projects before starting on game design. Those are subjects for another video.

1 comment:

  1. A big cheer for you game designers! (Kudos to Maddy for sticking with her girl character, too) I will need to check out this App with my sons.