(Note: this is a repost of a blog post)
This summer, I used Gamestar Mechanic as a main portal into gaming with a summer camp program that I co-taught with another Western Massachusetts Writing Project colleague. We really liked the site as a teaching tool, and the kids (for the most part) thought it was a fun way to learn about game design. Basically, you play video games to learn about how to make video games, and then you make games that you publish to the Gamestar community. Not long after the camp ended, the folks at Gamestar emailed me to say they were starting a project to support teachers, and they were looking for lesson plans that used the site.
Would I contribute?
I was interested, but I told them that I was frankly a little tired of sites asking me to give my writing up for free. They countered with an offer to give me some membership perks if I submitted a lesson plan. I agreed. My lesson plan revolves around the connections between game design and the writing process, particularly around storyboarding or idea mapping. There are just three gaming lesson plans up on the site right now, but I can see it being valuable for teachers, whether they use Gamestar or not.
At the site, there are various resources for teachers — including informational handouts, videos and also a few sample games that you can play without a site membership, just to give you a taste of what the experience is about as a player. Really, though, it is the experience of the game creator that I have been most interested in these days. Gamestar is one way in to that idea.
Peace (in the gaming),
PS — If you are interested in looking at the resources that I created and posted:
- More Than a Game: One Teacher’s Journey into Video Games (in which I dive into some unknown terrain to make sense of the possibilities as I designed the summer program. I wanted our kids not to just play games, but to learn about the design principals and mechanics of game design)
- Bringing Young Gamers Together: A Digital Writing Camp (in which I document the week’s activities and visitors and game design activities)