Yesterday the students of the EduMais Educational Game Summer Camp started with week number 3. In this week they will design, build and develop the first computer games. The core team grew with two people: Berry and Jolien. Together with Menno, Jeroen, Flavia, Marcelo and Rob they created the program for the next two week.
The group of students is more than halved due to Covid infections or because some students did not manage to get tested on time. Covid tests are free in PPG Favela – fortunately! Commercial tests cost R$300 per person per test. That is around 45 Euro or 55$. To put this into perspective: the minimum wage in Brazil is R$1.212 monthly.
The group is split into 3 specializations:
- Development – programming the games, for this we use Game Maker Studio 2 created by our former colleague Mark Overmars.
- Art – visualizing the games. how the game look and feels.
- Game design and marketing – the mechanics of the game and how to market it when its ready to get published.
The selection in which group a student works is a decision made by the students themselves. For this reason it was very important that in the first two weeks they’ve experienced every aspect of game design. With two weeks left each students has the opportunity to learn 2 of the 3 preferred specializations.
Tot get acquainted with the basic skills of the specializations we use famous existing examples of classic robust games we all know.
For the development team this was – of course – PacMan. We use PacMan because it a very good designed game, simple enough to learn how to make it in a short period. And with enough complexity to really understand how to create interactive interfaces and how the dynamics of the game works. And of course PacMan was also chosen because of the workshop by Ellis in Wonderland in the first week that was tailored around PacMan, what the idea behind it is and how it was to meet with the inventor of PacMan: Toru Iwatani
The Art group practiced how to make characters or avatars and how to play with shapes and proportions. Playing with body shapes and proportions enables designers to express in body language how to caricature and mimicry emotions. Character is therefore a perfect name for a game character. Because it has both a literal and figurative meaning.
Besides the character design there will be workshops on using shadows, how to design game assets digitally on an ipad. Game assets are objects in game to interact with. This can be a car, an obstacle or a tool.
The third specialization is about Game Design and how to market the game when it is ready to get published. The Game Design aspect of this specialization is tailored around maze structures. Not surprisingly because Pacman actually is a maze. The assignment for the students was to design iteratively alternative maze structures for PacMan and to test them. And eventually to come-up with alternative Gameplay as well. We where astonished to discover how creative and how good these students are doing so.
The organization had to be creative with the playful breaks and lunch. We kept the groups together without mingling them. And everybody had to wear nose and mouth masks and keep enough distance as possible.
Every day the group of teachers and volunteers evaluate what went top and what could be improved. Improved Covid measures, avoiding the use of cellphones by the teachers in front the students, better listening, cooler places to be able to work are such tips to improve. The tops are among many others the steep learning curve the kids showed, their progression and the good concentration.
That ends the first day of the 3rd week. Tired and at the same time satisfied we look forward to the next days of the Summer Camp.
This weekend we received the sad news that due to an infection and Covid Diana Nijboer got hospitalized in the ICU in Rio de Janeiro. We all worried what would happen with her. We are in close contact with her every day. She’s in good hands and she is recovering but very slowly. Of course she is very sad and cried a lot that she misses this part of the course as Founder of EduMais and as an educational Mum for all the students, volunteers and teachers. It actually gave everybody at EduMais the strength and energy to work even harder to make this Summer Camp a huge success. Recover soon Diana and in the mean time the students will design, develop and play fantastic educational games created by themselves.