On March 15th, as part of the 4th annual National STEM Video Game Challenge (presented by the Smithsonian in partnership with The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media), 16 kids showed up in the museum theater to spend a few hours learning about game design.
Beginning with some discussion and sharing about what makes a good designer and what games everybody enjoys, participants then went through some of the aspects of game design by playing a few variants of Rock, Paper, Scissors. They were then given some objects and tasked with designing a game around them: What would the goals be? How do you achieve those goals? What pieces are needed? How many players does it need? Who does this game appeal to? What is it called?
Two professional game designers (of Zulama and Schell Games) joined in on the fun, offering advice and guidance to help shape everybody’s ideas. After some planning, testing, and iterating, each group showed off their 20-minute game. With this team- and idea-building exercise completed, they were given opportunities to set up online accounts with the beginner game creation software Gamestar Mechanic, and to ask questions of the pros.
It was a great afternoon and a ton of fun! Huge thanks to all the presenters and guests who made this possible, and the sponsors who allowed it to be presented free of charge!