For the second time this week, I hopped on my computer and joined a group of people somewhere else. The other day, it was as part of a collaborative keynote address in New York. Last night, it was a Skype visit to Kathryn Trask’s classroom in New Zealand (we follow each other on Twitter). Her students are learning about video game design by using Gamestar Mechanic (just as we do) and she wanted me to chat about the elements and importance of storyboarding. I was happy to do it, although the time difference was a little strange (it was today when I talked to them last night).
As I talked with her students, I tried to emphasize a few things around game design storyboarding:
- A storyboard is a map of ideas so you see the larger picture as well as the smaller segments
- While storyboards do not need to include every detail, they should conceptually show a story/narrative arc
- In game design, storyboard panels are a handy way of considering “levels” of a game
- The act of storyboarding flips you from seeing your game as the maker to envisioning the role of the player
- Just because you have a storyboard doesn’t mean you shouldn’t veer off when something better/more interesting comes along in the midst of design. Remain flexible
Later, I also shared a few resources that might be helpful:
- A post that I had done about students and their storyboarding during our gaming unit
- A write-up lesson plan overview that I did for Gamestar Mechanic
- And my own storyboard for the video game that I made as a mentor text for my students
It was pretty neat to jump into another classroom. Kathryn’s students asked some great questions and now, she has the challenge ahead of them to begin planning a game. Good luck!
Peace (in the sharing and connecting),
(link to slideshow)
I was a co-presenter at a session at the National Writing Project’s Annual Meeting last week on the topic of game design. I joined Steve Moore, Rafi Santos and Janelle Bence to present a variety of ways that gaming and video games might have a place in the educational setting, starting from a systems framework idea of the ecology of a school, to integrating game design theory into the curriculum, to connections to the Common Core, to how to build a game. It was a lot of fun, and full of interesting insights by the participants, who spent a chunk of time collaboratively constructing a game and then reflecting on the experience.
You can also access the agenda online, which has resources that the presenters and the audience have pulled together.
Peace (in the sharing),
If you are just joining me here, you may be wondering about my sudden fascination about zombies. Well, I am taking part in a weekend Twitter-based game called Twitter vs. Zombies as part of Digital Writing Month. (You can see my post about it from yesterday). And I figure, as long a I am in the game, so, too, should the characters from the webcomic I have been creating as part of Digital Writing Month.
And so, Shirley is on the run from her friend, Dave, who has been bitten and is hungry. In this game of text and tweets, you can’t trust anyone. Not even your favorite blogger.
Peace (in the adventure),
I came across this odd game development site a few weeks ago called Game-O-Matic, in which you build a simple video game by providing the system with a “networked diagram” of ideas. (Sort of like a mind map). The software then constructs the game, which is a little difficult to play. But it is fascinating how the use of a diagram of ideas linked together can get transformed into a video game.
I created my game (called The Musician Game) along the lines of a musician, and the bonus points are notes and ideas while the penalty points are dissonance and critics. The idea is to keep growing the musician by feeding on the notes and ideas, and avoid the power suck of the dissonance and critics. This kind of game might be an interesting way to teach symbolic thought.
Give it a whirl:
Peace (in yet another game),
PS — here is a tutorial:
Microsoft is celebrating the role of Atari (Pong, Asteroids, Breakout, etc.) in the video game history by launching an interesting site that showcases the old arcade games. Using HTML5, Microsoft is now offering a bunch of old games to the web browser.
But, also, they are providing some tools for game developers to build arcade games. I have not yet explored that end of the site, and wonder how much programming one has to know. But it is worth a look … (Note: the video becomes a shout-out to Microsoft, just so you know)
Peace (in the games),
Tomorrow, I head out to the Berkshires for the annual conference and professional development event of the Massachusetts Teachers Association. Tomorrow night, I am taking part in the MTA’s Ed Talk, which is billed as a local version of TED Talks. I’m really looking forward to being part of the event, but it has been a struggle to create a meaningful presentation in a seven-minute limit. Plus, I am trying to keep in mind some of the things that make TED special: high interest, use of humor, pacing.
I had all sorts of ideas for my topic on video game design in the classroom. I thought it would be cool to come on stage with a massive inflatable game device. I couldn’t find any that didn’t cost an arm and a leg. (but I still have an idea that I am pursuing here.) Then, I thought: I’ll start out by playing one of my student’s games on the big screen. That might have worked (I intended to mutter loudly as I hit obstacles) and I even did a video capture of it, just to time it out. It was way too long, and so, I scrapped that, too.
In the end, I will do my best with injecting some humor and use pacing as best as I can, and hope that my seven minutes generates enough interest in the audience (the Ed Talks will be filmed and shared on YouTube) to spark some thinking of why we need to help our students make the shift from player to creator, and how game design connects nicely with writing process theories.
Here is the announcement info from MTA about the event, which features some very interesting folks and I am sure they are going to be lighting up the stage with some great ideas.
Heading to MTA Summer Conference at Williams? Join us Wednesday, August 8, at 7:30 p.m. for ED Talks.
Come hear 11 new “ideas worth sharing” about education and community presented in the style of TED Talks. Eleven speakers – a student, a vice principal, two community college professors, K-12 educators and a community activist around among them – will offer up their viewpoints in five- and seven-minute presentations.
The presenters are:
- Suzy Brooks, a third-grade teacher in Falmouth, tech enthusiast, MassCUE Pathfinder and Girl Scout. [@simplysuzy]
- William Burkhead, assistant high school principal in Plymouth and athletic coach. [@northeagles]
- Dan Callahan, K-5 instructional technology specialist in Burlington and chairman of the Board of Directors for the Edcamp Foundation. [@dancallahan]
- Kevin Hodgson, sixth-grade teacher in Southampton and technology liaison with the Western Massachusetts Writing Project. [@dogtrax]
- Lily Huang, public education organizer with Jobs with Justice.
- Katrina Kennett, high school English teacher in Plymouth in search of good books and bold ideas. [@katrinakennett]
- Diana Marcus, fifth-grade teacher, tech enthusiast and president of the Burlington Educators Association. [@pgroom209 and @marcusBEA]
- Jason Pramas, artist, photojournalist, (non-union adjunct) communication professor and activist.
- Chelsea Slater, student and vice president of the Vice President of the LGBT Student Union at Bunker Hill Community College.
- Wick Sloane, Inside Higher Ed columnist and Bunker Hill Community College professor.
- Mohamed Zefzaf, Massachusetts Bay Community College professor and ESL teacher.
ED Talks will take place in Hopkins Hall 001 (Lower Level). The program is being coordinated by MTA members Camille Napier-Bernstein (Natick) and Monica Poole (MCCC).
ED Talks will be video taped and available for viewing soon on MTA’s YouTube channel.
See you there, if you are there, and if not, see you on YouTube!
Peace (in the game),
One of the reasons I am taking part as a ‘student’ in the Gamestar Mechanic Summer Learning Program is to understand better how to give feedback to my students during our video game design unit. This morning, I received some fantastic feedback on my game (shared here yesterday) called The Odyssey of Tara. (I invite you to play the game).
Notice the balance of positive to advice, and also, how detailed the comments are. As the game designer, I can tell that not only did my teacher play my game, but they were making notes about each level, and offering up their own experiences as an outside player and as a game designer. That kind of duel views is helpful when creating a video game.
Now, I need to step back myself and see the game through their eyes.
Peace (in the game),