The #CLMOOC Video Game (and How to Make Your Own)

clmooc game

(Click on image to play the video game)

I did a variation of this last year, but have tinkered with the Making Learning Connected video game for this year, and this week, as we move into the theme of games and stories, it seemed very appropriate to share it out.

Play the game!

But don’t just play the game. Make your own video game.

Here’s how you do it:

First, create an account in Gamestar Mechanic. It’s free for the basic level. I could write a lot about Gamestar but let me just say that it is a video game design site built for students, and they earn experience i game design elements while playing “Quests” and building their own games. You don’t need to do the Quests to build a game, however (You just can’t publish it to the world until you finish the first Quest).

When you are in Gamestar, go to your “workshop” area (you will see the link along the banner) and click on “Build New Game.”
Gamestar Tutorial

This will bring you to the game construction area, where you can begin to make your video game.

Gamestar Tutorial

You can add text and the “story narrative” to the game.
Gamestar Mechanic

Here’s an example of a simple start to a maze game.
Gamestar Tutorial

Have fun. Build games. Learn about design. Think of your students.

Peace (in the screen),

Kevin

Making Flappy Writer (a forked game)

flappywritercode
I saw a link to a game development site called Play My Code and I could not resist checking it out. It’s pretty code-heavy (thus, the name) but it does allow you to remix/fork projects that others have created, so some tinkering with the underlying code gives you an opportunity to play and make games. Here, I took someone’s remix of Flappy Bird, added some new images, and created Flappy Writer.

Play Flappy Writer and avoid the pencils

And here is the embedded version of the game (wondering if this will work)

This site is clearly marked in Beta Mode, but it has some neat potential for those students who want to move beyond my video game design unit with Gamestar Mechanic, and who want to dive into some code-based development.

Peace (in the game),
Kevin

Slice of Life: Slotting Quarters the Vintage Arcade

(This is for Slice of Life with Two Writing Teachers. Come join us in writing a Slice of Life every day for the month of March. You will be part of a large and growing community of teachers-as-writers. We also use the #sol14 hashtag on Twitter. Plus, there are prizes for the Slice of Life challenge.)

11454297503_e27946e4ff_h

A new place opened up not far from our house, a small restaurant that is packed to the gills with vintage arcade games of yore. Asteroids, Space Invaders, Lunar Command, Joust,  Centipede Burger Time, 1942 and more are all on display around the walls of this place. Ironically, though, there is no Pac Man or Donkey Kong. So, my sons and I broke into our piggy bank (yes, we have one), stuffed a bunch of quarters into our pockets, and made our way to the new place to check it out. It’s called … Quarters.

It’s a hole-in-the-wall kind of place, just as you might suspect. But it was mobbed, with parents (OK, mostly fathers) and kids, stuffing coins into slots and playing games with graphics that have to make you laugh. These are not your kids’ video games. These are old consoles, and yet, there is some nostalgic appeal to them. I remember hours in arcades during the summer, at the bowling alley or at my grandmother’s pool in New York City, playing many of these same machines.

My 13 year old son and I had a tournament of sorts with Asteroids, playing multiple games in order to get our name on the winner board. We succeeded (and I scored higher than he did — high five for the old man). These games are a lot harder to play than they seem, and you quickly understand some of the ingenuity that went into their creation with the limited computer power and graphics of the time.

As we were leaving, a few quarters lighter than when we arrived, he turned to me, and said, “I bet this is from a bunch of guys who just love video games and had these in their basements.”

He’s probably right.

Peace (in the play),
Kevin

PS — you can also play a lot of these games online now. Check out Classic Arcade Games. Or check out Microsoft’s site for Atari Arcade.

Student Video Game Reviews: Draw Something

Norris Gamers Icon
As part of our game design unit, my students explored games they liked to play and then reviewed them through a critical lens of a game designer. I’m going to be sharing out a few podcasts that my students did around their reviews, giving voice to them as players and creators.

Here, Lily reviews the collaborative app Draw Something.


Peace (with the pen),
Kevin

Hacking Four Corners

Hacking Four Corners

Each morning, my sixth graders and I gather up for our morning meeting, which we call Circle of Power and Respect. Our routine of checking in and sharing and connecting at the start of the day is built off the tenets of the Responsive Classroom. I really like how it brings us together in a positive way, and the students are ones to lead the meeting, not me. I turn over the responsibility to them as much as possible.

Part of the routine is an activity that can merge cooperative learning with play, and we have a growing list of about 15 to 20 activities and games that we pull from. By January, some of the activities start getting a little old, so I encourage my students to mess around with the rules once we’ve learned them and hack the activities as they see fit. (Soon, I will have them design and write out rules for their own activities).

On Friday, that’s what happened with our game of Four Corners. I’ve tried to represent in a chart what happened as students began to change the rules of this rather simple game to make it more interesting. First of all, the basics of Four Corners is that one person is “it” — they close their eyes and count to ten. Everyone else makes a beeline for one of the four corners of the room, which have been numbered, and the “it” person calls out a number. Anyone in that corner is out of the game. Another round ensues. It’s elimination. The last one standing in a corner wins and becomes “it” for the next game.

On Friday, the student leader started to add corners to the game in the second round, going from four spaces to ten, and changed the entire flow of the room and the game. Then, in the third round, this student decided that only odd number corners were “in play” and again, the flow was altered as kids had to think in their heads which were odd and which were even. In the last round, the even corners were “in play.” More scrambling and thinking.

There was playful mayhem as the leader kept changing things up, taking Four Corners into new terrain for everyone. I just watched from a distance, giving some help here and there. For the most part, I was an observer of play and admirer of the nimble thinking of the students. It was all over in about ten minutes yet the laughter and sense of fun lasted throughout most of the rest of the day.

Peace (in the game),
Kevin

Student Video Game Reviews: Temple Run 2

Norris Gamers Icon
As part of our game design unit, my students explored games they liked to play and then reviewed them through a critical lens of a game designer. I’m going to be sharing out a few podcasts that my students did around their reviews, giving voice to them as players and creators.

Here, Emma shares her views about Temple Run 2, which is an app for mobile devices.

Peace (on the run),
Kevin

Student Video Game Review: Lord of the Rings

Norris Gamers Icon
As part of our game design unit, my students explored games they liked to play and then reviewed them through a critical lens of a game designer. I’m going to be sharing out a few podcasts that my students did around their reviews, giving voice to them as players and creators.
Here, Aiden reviews one of the many Lord of the Rings games out there (which seem to be popular with a set of my kids).

Peace (in the ring),
Kevin

Student Video Game Review: Cut the Rope

Norris Gamers Icon
As part of our game design unit, my students explored games they liked to play and then reviewed them through a critical lens of a game designer. I’m going to be sharing out a few podcasts that my students did around their reviews, giving voice to them as players and creators.
Here, Abby reviews Cut the Rope, which continues to have a wide appeal among gamers.

Peace (when you’re falling),
Kevin

Video Game Spotlight: Ryan

This student of mine has been deep into our game design unit. I think Gamestar Mechanic might soon to be limiting for him but he has enjoyed learning and playing with games, and this version of his science-based video game project shows a lot of good thinking, planning and game design. (If you are viewing this post on a mobile device, it might not embed.)

Peace (in the game),
Kevin