Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Game Design Using Gamestar Mechanic

This year I introduced a new unit, Game Design, to my 7th and 8th grade students using a free online program called Gamestar Mechanic.  Gamestar Mechanic is designed to teach game design and systems thinking in a highly engaging and creative environment while also recognizing that the best games inlcude strong narratives. This unit was not only engaging and fun for the students but it tied directly to our pillars: Critical Thinking, Technical Savvy and Global Thinking.

 In Gamestar Mechanic, students get to play, design and share.  Students begin learning the basics of game design by playing through the first quest, Addison Joins the League. This quest begins with a narrative adventure shown in motion comics and mini-games.  As students play and fix games, they earn sprites that they can use to design games in their workshop.  All games are made using drag-and-drop tools, without having to program.  Then, they can share their games in Game Alley, a community where kids review and comment on each others' games. In Game Alley, kids can see how others are playing their games and read peer reviews and comments!

Their final project consisted of telling a story in the format of a game. Students used problem-solution essays they wrote in English as a basis for the scenario for their games.  After they they play-tested each others' games and provided feedback in Gamestar Mechanic, they published reflections about their games on my website.  Below are a few examples.

Take a moment to read their reflections.  Each one provides an example of some of the ways our students are applying problem solving, collaboration, art, storytelling, and digital media literacy through the development of video games.  Next year we will build upon this knowledge by incorporating programming through the use of Scratch.

Aleena K - Period 3

"The game that I created represented the story of Samantha, a young Africa American orphan, who is bullied because of her race. The sprites in my game referred to the bullies in Samantha's life. The red blocks were the obstacles that hurt Samantha. For example, the students who made fun of her would be the obstacles that hurt her. My game represented the tough life that Samantha had and each level showed how Samantha grew over time. Samantha had a very challenging life which made it a bit challenging for me to make her story into a game. With all the problems Samantha had in her life, it was hard to choose which ones are the most important. And even after deciding the most important ones, I didn't know how to represent it in game format. I spent a lot of time thinking, but I finally found a way and I feel that it turned out great." 

Jessica- Period 3

"I thought of how dangerous the Japanese Tsunami was so I applied what I learned in Gamestar Mechanic and my imagination and put it on the game board. I had to think of the components used, which mechanics, spacing, goals, and rules. These are the five of the elemental designs that I have learned throughout the games from the website Gamestar Mechanic. As I was playing, each part has a new element or item that I can earn if I win the game and all of it's levels." 

Lauren- Period 4
"The game I created took place in and out doors and has many levels that get harder as the player is further into the levels. The game that I created was called War, and it was about Pènèlope, a 20 year old girl, who enlists in the army and is accepted. She is trained and then fights but gets captured, escapes and celebrates her arrival with people back home. The most challenging part of the design phase was deciding what background I was going to use, how I should place the different blocks, and how the level should look and feel. I was also limited on the types of blocks, avatars, and enemies so that made the process of making my ideas on paper come to life much more difficult than expected.

I wanted my levels to tell a story. The first level she tells her mom she joined the army, second level she goes through training, third level she goes through war, forth level she is captured, and the fifth level was when she celebrates her arrival with friends and family. Each of the backgrounds of each level were represented by the time of day and the level itself. One took place in the dark and that was to make it more 'challenging' if you were in the game.

In some levels I was trying to convey a mood such as scary or happy and enjoyable. I used the sharp red blocks for the creepy levels and used the grass and fluffy clouds for the happy games. The avatar in some levels were changed due to the platform or top down settings. One had a suit and the other was her without the suit. The enemies changed as well. In one level the enemies looked insane, some looked harmless, and in others they looked brutal and mean."

Jennifer Music
Leading Edge Technology Teacher

No comments:

Post a Comment