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Offering Teen-oriented Game Design Programs for Fun, Literacy and Learning


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Presentation on the learning benefits of game design programs delivered at the Illinois Library Association Annual Meeting, Springfield, IL, October 12, 2007

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Offering Teen-oriented Game Design Programs for Fun, Literacy and Learning

  1. 1. Offering Teen-oriented Game Design Programs for Fun, Literacy and Learning Betty Giorgi Brian W. Myers Wilmette Public Library Illinois Library Association 2007 Annual Meeting
  2. 2. Wilmette Public Library Offering Teen-Oriented Game Design Programs for Fun, Literacy and Learning Download this presentation:
  3. 3. Wilmette Public Library Teens Not Allowed Reshuffling the deck of cards Pizza still works Do it on a dime Are you an enabler? Goal = Youth + Technology
  4. 4. Wilmette Public Library Design applications Why game design? Creating from Scratch Game Maker Academy Play = Learning Developing Teen-Oriented Game Design Programs for Fun and Learning Gaming Literacy Resources
  5. 5. Wilmette Public Library MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Initiative _________________________________________________________
  6. 6. Wilmette Public Library Innovative program serving a previously underserved population Support and facilitate involvement in participatory technologies Promote media literacy and technological competencies Broaden existing gaming programs Why Game Design . . . At the Library? _________________________________________________________ Professional initiatives
  7. 7. Wilmette Public Library Game design as a context for promoting media literacy _____________________________________________________________ “ Our position is that there is an emerging form of media literacy that we sometimes call ‘Gaming Literacy.’ Gaming Literacy has to do with information management, understanding complex systems, social networks, a critical design process, and creativity with digital technology. Increasingly, this new form of literacy will be crucial in the workplace and in our social and civic lives. The process of game design, which combines mathematics and logic, storytelling and aesthetics, writing and communication, systems and analytic thinking, among other elements, is one of the best ways of engaging with this form of literacy.” Eric Zimmerman, interviewed by Henry Jenkins (December 21, 2006) Retrieved July 23, 2007 from
  8. 8. Wilmette Public Library “ When kids learn to design games they not only learn how to explore the possibility space of a set of rules but also learn to understand and evaluate a game’s meaning as the product of relationships between elements in a dynamic system . . . Game design as a context for promoting systemic thinking ______________________________________________________________ “ Educators and education advocates have recently acknowledged that the ability to think systemically is one of the necessary skills for success in the 21 st century. We believe that game-making is especially well-suited to encouraging meta-level reflection on the skills and processes that designer-players use in building such systems, be they games or communities of practice.” Katie Salen, Gaming Literacies ( May, 2007)
  9. 9. Wilmette Public Library James Paul Gee (“What Videogames can Teach us about Literacy and Learning”) _________________________________________________________
  10. 10. Wilmette Public Library STUDIES ON VIDEOGAMES <ul><li>PLAYING </li></ul><ul><li>Gee, 2003 </li></ul><ul><li>Steinkueler, 2004 </li></ul><ul><li>Squire, 2005 </li></ul><ul><li>Halverson, 2005 </li></ul><ul><li>Schaffer, 2006 </li></ul>CREATING <ul><li>GAME MODDING </li></ul><ul><li>Good & Robertson, 2004 </li></ul><ul><li>Squire, 2005 </li></ul><ul><li>El-Nasr, 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>El-Nasr & Smith, 2006 </li></ul><ul><li>GAME MAKING </li></ul><ul><li>Kafai, 1995 </li></ul><ul><li>Kafai & Resnick, 1996 </li></ul><ul><li>Salen & Zimmerman, 2003 </li></ul><ul><li>Overmars, 2004 </li></ul><ul><li>Kafai & Peppler 2007 </li></ul><ul><li>Salen, 2007 </li></ul>Game Studies ________________________________________________________ A slightly different version of this slide originally presented by Kafai and Peppler at GLS 2007. Used with permission.
  11. 11. Wilmette Public Library Game Studies ________________________________________________________ Seymour Papert Idit Harel Caperton Uri Wilensky Yasmin Kafai Mitchel Resnick <ul><li>Constructionism: </li></ul><ul><li>Performance precedes competence </li></ul><ul><li>Learners develop understanding and knowledge through the making of things... constructing ideas and personally meaningful projects. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Wilmette Public Library Design Pedagogies ________________________________________________________ Mitchel Resnick Why Design? Engage kids as active participants Encourage creative problem solving . . . Interdisciplinary, bringing together ideas from art, technology, math and sciences . . . Encourage kids to put themselves in the mind of others . . . Provide opportunities for reflection and collaboration Positive feedback loop of learning Mitchel Resnick, Rethinking Learning in the Digital Age (2002)
  13. 13. Wilmette Public Library Design Pedagogies ________________________________________________________ How have educators used game-making activities? 1. Helping students to learn programming tools and concepts 2. Helping students learn content 3. Facilitating the understanding of design concepts and engendering fluency with digital technologies.
  14. 14. <ul><li>Alice </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>3d animations </li></ul><ul><li>Simple games </li></ul><ul><li>Cross-platform </li></ul><ul><li>Open source, free download </li></ul><ul><li>Developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon, version 3.0 is under development in partnership with EA. </li></ul><ul><li>Randy Pausch’s web site: </li></ul>Design programs that teach programming concepts and skills ________________________________________________________ Wilmette Public Library
  15. 15. Design programs that teach programming concepts and skills ________________________________________________________ <ul><li>ToonTalk </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Animations </li></ul><ul><li>Simple games </li></ul><ul><li>$24.95 w/quantity discounts </li></ul><ul><li>Windows 95+; will run on PC emulators like SoftWindows or Virtual PC. </li></ul><ul><li>Developed by Animated Programs; version 3.0 just released. </li></ul>Wilmette Public Library
  16. 16. Design programs that teach programming concepts and skills ________________________________________________________ <ul><li>MicroWorlds Logo </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Graphics </li></ul><ul><li>Animations </li></ul><ul><li>Programming Commands </li></ul><ul><li>Simple games </li></ul><ul><li>$49.00 - $99.00 </li></ul><ul><li>Windows/Mac </li></ul><ul><li>A family of multimedia applications that teaches programming skills and promotes media literacies. Developed by LCSI, a company founded by Seymour Papert. </li></ul>Wilmette Public Library
  17. 17. <ul><li>Scratch </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Animations </li></ul><ul><li>Simple games </li></ul><ul><li>Includes built-in graphics & sound editors </li></ul><ul><li>Cross-platform </li></ul><ul><li>Open source/free download </li></ul><ul><li>Developed by the MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten Group. </li></ul>Design programs that teach programming concepts and skills ________________________________________________________ Wilmette Public Library
  18. 18. <ul><li>StarLogo TNG </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>3d animations </li></ul><ul><li>Uses “programmable blocks” coding environment, similar to Scratch. </li></ul><ul><li>Cross-platform. </li></ul><ul><li>Open source, free download. </li></ul><ul><li>Developed by researchers at MIT’s Media Lab, in collaboration with the Teacher Education Project. </li></ul>Design programs that teach programming concepts and skills ________________________________________________________ Wilmette Public Library
  19. 19. Game making applications ________________________________________________________ <ul><li>Games Factory </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>2D games </li></ul><ul><li>Includes built-in graphics & sound editors </li></ul><ul><li>Windows only </li></ul><ul><li>$59.00 </li></ul><ul><li>Developed by Clickstream, makers of Multimedia Fusion and Multimedia Fusion Developer. The successor to the Klik & Play product. </li></ul>Wilmette Public Library
  20. 20. Game making applications ________________________________________________________ <ul><li>RPG Maker </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>2D/3D games </li></ul><ul><li>Includes built-in graphics & sound editors and a large library of graphics,tiles and sound effects. </li></ul><ul><li>XP version implements Ruby scripting. </li></ul><ul><li>Windows only. </li></ul><ul><li>$60.00 </li></ul><ul><li>Developed by Enterbrain, Inc., a Tokyo publisher of game-related software, books and magazines. </li></ul>Wilmette Public Library
  21. 21. Game making applications ________________________________________________________ <ul><li>Game Maker </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>2D/3D games </li></ul><ul><li>Includes built-in graphics & sound editors </li></ul><ul><li>Windows only </li></ul><ul><li>Open source/free download </li></ul><ul><li>Registered version: $20 </li></ul><ul><li>Developed by Marc Overmars of Utrecht University for freshman computer science students. </li></ul>Wilmette Public Library
  22. 22. Game making applications ________________________________________________________ <ul><li>Stagecast Creator </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>2D simulations and games. </li></ul><ul><li>Includes built-in graphics & sound editors. </li></ul><ul><li>Windows XP/Mac OS </li></ul><ul><li>$79.95 </li></ul><ul><li>Developed by Stagecast Software, Inc. of Burlinghame, California. </li></ul>Wilmette Public Library
  23. 23. Game making applications ________________________________________________________ <ul><li>Boku </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>3D simulations and games. </li></ul><ul><li>Windows and XBox 360 </li></ul><ul><li>$??? </li></ul><ul><li>Currently being tested internally; project was announced at the 2007 ETech Conference in San Diego. </li></ul>Wilmette Public Library
  24. 24. Game making applications ________________________________________________________ <ul><li>Gamestar Mechanic </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>MMO that requires the player to build games in order to advance through levels.. </li></ul><ul><li>Due for release in 2009. </li></ul><ul><li>$??? </li></ul><ul><li>Currently undergoing beta testing at various locations. Developed by Gamelab (Lead design Katie Salen) and members of the University of Wisconsin Academic ADL Co-Lab. </li></ul>Wilmette Public Library
  25. 25. Gamestar Mechanic – Katie Salen (“Rules of Play”) ________________________________________________________ Wilmette Public Library
  26. 26. Additional interactive concept modeling & multimedia design packages ______________________________________________________________ <ul><li>TableTop </li></ul><ul><li>Zoombinis </li></ul><ul><li>HubNet </li></ul><ul><li>Fathom </li></ul><ul><li>Polly’s World </li></ul><ul><li>Soda World </li></ul><ul><li>Game Game </li></ul><ul><li>Squeak </li></ul><ul><li>Moose Crossing </li></ul><ul><li>Hypergami </li></ul><ul><li>Vehicles </li></ul><ul><li>Sims </li></ul><ul><li>Impromptu </li></ul><ul><li>Bridge Builder </li></ul><ul><li>Magic Pengel </li></ul><ul><li>Line Rider </li></ul>Wilmette Public Library Boxer Model-It Adventure Game Studio Geometer’s Sketchpad
  27. 27. Criteria used to select game design application _____________________________________________________________ Wilmette Public Library <ul><li>Had to be inexpensive (e.g., free) </li></ul><ul><li>Low floor </li></ul><ul><li>High ceiling </li></ul><ul><li>Must include a collaborative/social networking dimension </li></ul><ul><li>Must be not only a game design tool, but also a learning tool: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Promote computational fluency </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Promote mathematical problem-solving </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Integrate content creation & editing (graphics, sound) </li></ul></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Game Maker ______________________________________________________________ Wilmette Public Library Game Maker <ul><li>Originally developed as a learning technology for freshman-level CS students; has become the mostly widely used game design program among nonprofessionals. </li></ul><ul><li>Widely used in high schools as an instructional technology. </li></ul><ul><li>Platform for high school and college level game design competitions. (i.e., games4girls) </li></ul><ul><li>No-cost unregistered version offers low floor/high ceiling. </li></ul><ul><li>Includes built in graphics and sound editors; includes animation editor. </li></ul><ul><li>Support includes developer’s forum ( ) and educators forum ( </li></ul><ul><li>Game Maker community sites offer opportunities for collaboration and peer support: </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
  29. 29. Game Maker Collaborative/Support sites ______________________________________________________________ Wilmette Public Library
  30. 30. Scratch ______________________________________________________________ Wilmette Public Library Scratch Developed as a learning technology by the same team that developed the LEGO robotics kits; a distant cousin of the LOGO family of learning tools. Intended for kids ages 8 -16. Widely tested by academics in schools and after school centers; currently offered as an instructional program by the Minneapolis Public Library through a partnership with MIT and the Science Museum of Minnesota. Available in multiple languages and used by children internationally Available as a free download. Very low floor/very high ceiling. Includes built in graphics and sound editors. Support includes forums on the Scratch Web site ( for users and educators. Instructional material created by the development team is available as a free download from the Scratch Web site.
  31. 31. Scratch Programming Environment _____________________________________________________________ Wilmette Public Library
  32. 32. Wilmette Public Library Scratch Online Community ______________________________________________________________
  33. 33. Wilmette Public Library Scratch at the Science Museum of Minnesota & Minneapolis Public Library ______________________________________________________________ Jennifer Nelson Partnerships Coordinator (Digital Inclusion) Minneapolis Public Library [email_address] Keith Braafladt Director of Learning Technologies Science Museum of Minnesota [email_address] Scratch Gallery
  34. 34. Scratch Programming Environment _____________________________________________________________ Wilmette Public Library
  35. 35. Game Maker Programming Environment _____________________________________________________________ Wilmette Public Library Tool Bar Resources Menu Tool Bar Actions Menu Events Menu Events Column Actions Column
  36. 36. Wilmette Public Library Game Maker Resources _____________________________________________________________ Habgood, Jacob and Overmars, Mark, The Game Maker’s Apprentice. NY: Apress. (2006) Swamy, Nanu, Basic Game Creation for Fun and Learning. Hingham, MA: Charles River Media. (2006).
  37. 37. Wilmette Public Library Game Maker Resources _____________________________________________________________ Game Maker’s web site offers tutorials and game-making resources such as sprites, sound effects, backgrounds, and animation strips. It also offers links to resources and instructional materials posted by educators at the high school and college level.
  38. 38. Wilmette Public Library Game Maker Academy _____________________________________________________________
  39. 39. Wilmette Public Library What have we learned? _____________________________________________________________
  40. 40. Wilmette Public Library What have we learned? _____________________________________________________________
  41. 41. Wilmette Public Library What have we learned? _____________________________________________________________
  42. 42. Wilmette Public Library What have we learned? ______________________________________________________________ <ul><li>Popularity of our programs was anticipated, but not at the level we experienced. For both the Scratch and Game Maker programs, classes filled up on the first day of sign-up. </li></ul><ul><li>Kids at the Park Ridge Public Library lined up outside the entrance ½ hour before opening in order to make sure that they could get in the class. </li></ul><ul><li>At each location (Wilmette, Evanston, Park Ridge) the names on the waiting list exceeded the number of openings by at least 200%. At Evanston and Wilmette we increased capacity and added additional classes but still could not accommodate everyone. </li></ul><ul><li>Generous buy-in on the part of our Friends organization, which financed the purchase of t-shirts for teen participants. </li></ul><ul><li>Gender ratio (Boys-Girls): </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Scratch programs: 3-2 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Game Maker Academy 15-1 (across all locations) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Partnerships with local youth organizations and schools. </li></ul>
  43. 43. Wilmette Public Library What have we learned? _____________________________________________________________ Keep class size limited to 10, unless you can find a good TA. Assume the role of facilitator, not instructor. Allow teens to reason through their design issues, rather than offer an answer to every question you are asked. Encourage creativity. Prepare handouts. Most teens will attend each workshop, but not all. Outcome is not as important as performance. The learning activity is far more important than achieving professional results. There is only so much that can be done within a 4-5 week time frame; create a club that meets on a monthly basis and use the workshops to fuel club momentum.
  44. 44. Wilmette Public Library Conclusion ______________________________________________________________ Professional game artist Rachel Nador ( ) visits with Wilmette’s game design club to demonstrate 3D modeling techniques.
  45. 45. Wilmette Public Library Conclusion ______________________________________________________________ Steve Abram interviewing teens from Wilmette and Park Ridge at the 2007 ALA Gaming, Learning and Libraries Symposium Photo: Jenny Levine
  46. 46. Bibliography ______________________________________________________________ Wilmette Public Library Gee, James P. What Video Games have to Teach us about Learning and Literacy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan (2003). Jenkins, Henry. Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century. Chicago: The MacArthur Foundation (2007). Kafai, Yasmin. Minds in Play: Computer Game Design as a Context for Children’s Learning. Hillsdale, NJ.: Erlbaum Associates (1995).   Kafai, Yasmin and Resnick, Mitchel [eds]. Constructionism in Practice: Designing, Thinking, and Learning in a Digital World. Hillsdale, NJ.: Erlbaum Associates (1996). Papert, Seymour and Harel, Idit. Constructionism. Ablex Publishing (1991). Papert, Seymour. Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and Powerful Ideas. New York: Basic Books (1980). Books:
  47. 47. Bibliography _____________________________________________________________ Wilmette Public Library Papert, Seymour. The Children’s Machine: Rethinking School in the Age of the Computer. New York: Basic Books (1993). Piaget, Jean. Play, Dreams and Imitation in Childhood. New York: W.W. Norton (1962). Resnick, Mitchel. Turtles, Termites, and Traffic Jams. Cambridge: The MIT Press (1997). Salen, Katie [ed.] Ecology of Games. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. (Forthcoming in September 2007).   Salen, Katie and Zimmerman, Eric. Rules of Play. Cambridge: MIT University Press (2003).   Salen, Katie and Zimmerman, Eric [Eds]. The Game Design Reader: A Rules of Play Anthology. Cambridge: MIT University Press (2005). Books (cont) :
  48. 48. Bibliography _____________________________________________________________ Wilmette Public Library El-Nasr, Magy and Smith, Brian. “Learning Through Game Modding.” Computers in Entertainment, Vol. 4, no. 1 (January 2006).   Good, Judith and Robertson, Judy. “Computer Games Authored by Children: A Multi-Perspective Evaluation.” Proceedings of the 2004 Conference on Interaction Design and Children, pp.123-124.   Good, Judith and Robertson, Judy. “Story Creation in Virtual Game Worlds.” Communications of the ACM, Vol. 48, no. 1 (January 2005). Habgood, M.P.J. “Zombie Division: Intrinsic Integration in Digital Learning Games.” Proceedings of the 2005 Human Centered Technology Workshop (2005). (Retrieved March 7, 2006 from ).   Habgood, M.P.J., Ainsworth S.E.& Benford, S. “The educational content of digital games made by children.” Paper presented at CAL conference (April 2005). (Retrieved March 7, 2006 ). Ito, Mizuko. “Education v. Entertainment: A Cultural History of Children’s Software.” Forthcoming in Salen, Katie (ed.) Ecology of Games. Harvard University Press (September 2007). Articles:
  49. 49. Bibliography ______________________________________________________________ Wilmette Public Library Kafai, Yasmin. “Playing and Making Games for Learning: Instructionist and Constructionist Perspectives for Game Studies.” Games and Culture Vol. 1, no. 1 (January 2006). Retrieved May 1, 2007 from Kafai, Yasmin and Peppler, Kylie. “Creative Coding: Programming for Personal Expression.” Retrieved March 6, 2007 from MIT Media Lab website: (Discusses Scratch).    Kafai, Yasmin. “Game Design as an Interactive Learning Environment for Fostering Students’ and Teachers’ Mathematical Inquiry.” International Journal of Computers for Mathematical Learning Vol. 3, no. 2 (May 1998). Millner, Amon. “The Hook-ups Initiative: How Youth Can Learn by Creating their own Computer Interfaces and Programs.” 2004 ACM SIGGROUP Bulletin, 24. (Discusses Scratch) Overmars, Mark. 2004. “Game Design in Education.” Retrieved March 7, 2007 from Utrecht University, Computer Science Department website: (Discusses Game Maker).   Overmars, Mark. “Teaching Computer Science through Game Design.” Computer Vol 37, no. 4 (2004). (Discusses Game Maker).       Articles (cont):
  50. 50. Bibliography _____________________________________________________________ Wilmette Public Library Papert, S. “Does Easy Do It? Children, Games and Learning.” Game Developer, June 1998, p.87-88. (Retrieved March 7, 2006 from ). Reiber, L. P., Luke, N., & Smith, J. “Project KID Designer: Constructivism at Work Through Play.” Meridian: A Middle School Computer Technologies Journal, vol. 1, no. 1. (1998). (Retrieved March 7, 2006 from )     Resnick, Mitchel. “Computer as Paint Brush: Technology, Play and the Creative Society.” In: Singer, D., Golinkoff, R.M. & Hirsh-Pasek, K. (eds.) Play = Learning. Oxford University Press (2006). (Discusses Scratch).     Resnick, Mitchel. “Closing the Fluency Gap.” Communications of the ACM, Vol. 44, no. 3. (March 2001).     Salen, Katie and Zimmerman, Eric. “Game Design and Meaningful Play.” In: Handbook of Computer Game Studies. Joost Raessens and Jeffrey Goldstein (ed.). MIT Press, (October 2005) Salen, Katie. “Gaming Literacies: What Kids Learn Through Design.” Educational Gaming, a Special Edition for Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia (JEMH). [forthcoming 2007]   Articles (cont):
  51. 51. Wilmette Public Library Contact: Betty Giorgi Head of Adult Services blgiorgi -at - wilmettelibrary -dot- info Brian Myers Reference Librarian and Web Manager bmyers -at - wilmettelibrary -dot- info