Gamestar Mechanic Teacher Blog

All posts from March, 2012

Teacher Videos!


Posted Mar. 22, 2012

CategoryGaming Education


We’ve started a new YouTube channel for Gamestar Mechanic.  I’ve been busy making our first two videos for teachers.  One video describes the Iterative Design Process of creating a game, and how to facilitate this process in the classroom.  We often encounter teachers who doubt their skills when it comes to gaming and “tech stuff.”  This video explains how you don’t need to be a super tech savvy teacher to still be a great facilitator of kids learning through game design.

The second video is all about Class Projects, a feature in Gamestar where you can assign game design challenges as assignments (or even homework!) to your class.

Check out these videos here!  Also, let me know if you have any topics you’d like to see in a tutorial video.  You can comment on this post, or email me at

Enjoy viewing!

Physical Game Exercises


Posted Mar. 13, 2012

CategoryGaming Education


Since the beginning of the new year, E-Liners have been doing a lot of traveling.  We’ve taught numerous workshops to promote the National STEM Video Game Challenge and workshops to teach teachers about game design.  We’ve gotten a bunch of positive responses on these workshops and especially on two, offline game design activities that we often present.  In the office, we affectionately call this activities “rock paper scissors” and “baggy.”

Both of these activities are about exploring the elements of game design without digital technology.  In “rock paper scissors,” you change the elements of the game system to see how changing one element with affect the whole system.  In “baggy” (known more professionally as the Game Kit Exercise), you make a game in small groups out of simply office supplies that comes in, you guessed it, a baggy.

Both of these activities are short and sweet, but not without some deep learning.  These are the kinds of exercises that *real* game designers do to explore concepts in their creations.  Prototyping with physical materials is a great way to start playtesting a new game design.

And now, you can have the “rock paper scissors” and “baggy” exercises for your very own classroom!  Follow the link here to the Learning Guide and check out the new lesson plans under “Lessons on Game Design.”  These are great preparation lessons for starting out a game design unit (and also great to do if you don’t have access to computers or Internet for a class).  Enjoy!

Games in the Classroom: Education Challenge Grant


Posted Mar. 07, 2012

CategoryChallenges and Contests, Gaming Community


Minecraft teacher and his students atop a structure they built

Here’s a quick post about a super grant from Entertainment Software Association (ESA) for teachers to submit lesson plans, submissions and other proposals that incorporate existing video games into school curricula.  So this is not a challenge to make your own game (for that, see the STEM Challenge), but a challenge to create an innovative plan to use existing games in the classroom.

There are a ton of games out there that were created for entertainment purposes but have been used in the classroom.  One classic example is Portal, a physics shooter from Valve that’s been used in high schools and college physics classes.  Another example is the game Civilization III, which has changed the minds of high school students from thinking that social studies is the “most boring subject” to the most interesting.

Tons of other games can be used in the classroom (check out stories on Little Big Planet 2, Minecraft, or World of Warcraft).  And, of course, this competition also encourages lesson plans on existing educational games like Gamestar Mechanic!

Check out information and contest rules here.  You could win big money and even bigger recognition as an innovative and creative educator.