How many people do you know that play computer games in some form or another? I would think that probably everyone you know plays games of some kind. Why do we do it? What do we gain from it? The overwhelming response I hear you say “Because it is fun.” Games have always been a part of my life since opening the wrapping of a Christmas present years ago to find an Atari 2600 gaming console. I can even remember a time before that when I would run over to my neighbour’s house to play Pong on a TV they had that had the game built into it. I remember them looking at me oddly when I arrived at their house at 9am on a Saturday asking to play Pong. Fortunately for them Atari where only months from releasing the console in Australia and they could go back to watching the Today Show or whatever it was that they were watching. It was with similar excitement I remember being asked to join the Game Design team at MacICT to work with Cathie and Anthony. I was over the moon. “Would you like to come and work with us and teach children and teachers how to use Game Design software?” they asked. “Are you kidding,” I felt like I had won the Gamer’s Lottery or something “sign me up!” I said. Well, here I am excited about having this awesome opportunity to work with amazingly talented people and being able to contribute what I know about games and teaching.
A little about my background, I have been a primary and secondary teacher in the Department of Education and Training for 15 years, working in many roles. I have always worked with technology seeking out the latest gadgets and making use of them in my teaching. I have been a computer coordinator in two schools for a total of 10 years and understand only too well the challenges and benefits that technology brings to a school. I am an avid gamer and have played thousands of games, modded/designed games and been part of online gaming communities for as long as there has been online games.
The gaming industry was last reported to be a $US 7 Billion industry, far larger than that of movies or television or any other entertainment based industry. That reason alone is enough to be teaching children game design but it offers a whole lot more. Game design is rich with learning experiences dominating the higher order thinking skills. Children are creating, analysing, deconstructing, organising, using technical and metalanguage, designing, it is 2 dimensional, 3 dimensional it asks questions and answers questions, promotes critical dialogue ....... and it goes on. In my opinion I feel game design is starting to become the medium for a new wave of creativity. Who knows what could become of children that understand how to make games, they could become the new Mark Zuckerberg “Facebook”, Bill Gates “Microsoft”, Sergey Brin or Lawrence Page “Google”. All of them had to learn how to write code and computer program.
I hope to offer my experiences to the Kodu Game Design Project and help out in any other area if I am needed. Kodu looks exciting, and believe me kids are going to love it. I will try and keep you up to date with what is happening with our project from my end and would love to hear about anything you might be doing in the area of gaming.