“Greetings, valiant Mechanics! Are you ready to embark on a grand adventure? Then prepare yourselves for Game of Sprites!” (GSM News, Nov. 16, 2016)
The Holidays are upon us! The students are restless… It’s time for a new challenge! Starting November 18th, the awesome team at Gamestar Mechanic began releasing a series of brand-new Challenges for your students to play through. These challenges will not only allow your students to unlock new sprites and gear but also provide them with a great lead up to a new Contest that will task them with creating their own games using these newly-released sprites! This challenge is awesome for lessons in game design, plot, character development, user-centric design, and creative writing, among other things.
As mentioned in earlier posts, designing a balanced game, one with flow, involves system-based thinking, problem-solving, collaboration, art, storytelling, and digital media literacy. It involves “Systems-Thinking” and “User-Centered Design”. To develop even a simple game, a student must act as sociotechnical engineer, thinking about how people will interact with a system and how said systems shape both competitive and collaborative social interaction. This is the 21st Century Story-Teller’s Art. This is where Liberal Arts meet STEM. This is what STEAM is all about! This is why those of us who were children of the 90’s remember and even revisit a great old game, much as though it were a great piece of literature we had read in childhood. I’m not trying to blaspheme here. Please do not attack me for putting Cloud and Frodo in the same basket, but I would argue that they might just belong together.
I would be remiss if I did not mention that the team at Gamestar clearly had a lot of fun putting these challenges together. They are well-designed games in which students will have the opportunity to earn never-before-seen sprites that also contain a lot of humor. I may be getting my geek on a little too much, but I seriously had some “laugh-out-loud” moments as I played through the two challenges that have been released so far. I’m seriously stoked for Episode III to be released today!
As this is the Gamestar Mechanic Teacher Blog and I am a teacher, I think in lesson plans. So without further ado, here is a sample lesson plan for you! (I am so a poet and totally know it!)
Sometimes I stumble upon an awesome teacher blog that I can’t resist sharing. From the Desk of Mr. Walters is the blog of a teacher/designer/gamer who shares many insights about his work with gaming, gamification, and game-based learning in the classroom. In this particular post, Mr. Walters shares a lesson plan on designing story games in Gamestar Mechanic. My favorite quote from this post is:
“To develop even a simple game, a student must act as sociotechnical engineer, thinking about how people will interact with a system and how said systems shape both competitive and collaborative social interaction. This is the 21st Century Story Tellers Art. This is where Liberal Arts meets STEM.”
Mr. Walters totally gets it! Enjoy his blog.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Saturday, Gamestar Mechanic and BrainPOP partnered to have an awesome event in BrainPOP’s very own beautiful office. This event was a kick off for the National STEM Video Game Challenge which opened yesterday. I cannot stop thinking about how inspiring and energetic this event was!
A wide variety of teachers showed up to learn about how to use game design in their classrooms. These teachers were public, private, charter, and homeschooling. They were at elementary, middle, and high school levels. They worked with mainstream students, ESL students, and special needs students. Some were gamers, but mostly they were new to gaming and game design, and couldn’t wait to get started with it!
We kicked off the day with a fantastic keynote by Michael Angst, CEO and founder of E-line Media. Following the keynote were a series of workshops where teachers made physical games, digital games, played games, reviewed games, and learned about games and STEM learning. To see pictures of the event, go here. (That link also includes handouts to help teachers prepare their students for the STEM video game challenge).
I left the event with a deep understanding that teachers from all walks of life (gamer or not) value the importance of connecting with and teaching students on an innovative and digital level. Thank you to all teachers who came, to BrainPOP for being fantastic partners, and to the Gamestar team for making such an inspiring platform!
We’ll definitely be doing an event like this again. See you there next time!