As the NYC Department of Education and Games for Change get ready to launch the first-ever Games for Change Student Challenge, teachers from all five boroughs are learning how to teach digital game design in their schools during the 2015-16 school year.
In August, 20 teachers gathered at the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens, for the first in a series of professional development sessions led by Institute of Play, Globaloria, and Unity Technologies. As part of the training, teachers learned about the game design process and how games can connect people and bridge social barriers.
Through the G4C Student Challenge, hundreds of middle and high school students from public schools across NYC will create original digital games about social issues in their communities, applying their coding skills to real-world challenges including literacy, sustainability, and animal welfare.
The game design process helps students develop critical life skills like systems thinking, problem solving, and design thinking. Game design can also be a powerful teaching tool — helping educators engage students in a hands-on, collaborative, and interest-driven learning experience.
While any middle or high school student enrolled in a NYC public school can participate in the Challenge, teachers selected for the training program receive professional development and in-class support to implement a game design curriculum in their schools using the Globaloria blended learning platform. Professional game designers will visit classes to mentor students throughout the program.
Teachers received an orientation to the design process from Institute of Play, and put their new skills to use creating paper prototypes of games about the Challenge Themes.
Want to participate in the Challenge but not sure if your school will be offering a game design course? First, talk to your principal about ways you can encourage students to create games to submit. Perhaps your school already offers a technology or computer science course in which students could design games. Game design resources, digital game-making tools, and beginner’s guides for students, parents and teachers are also available for free on the Challenge website.
The Challenge launches this September, and the submission deadline is January 30, 2016. A panel of judges including game designers, industry leaders and social innovators will evaluate submissions in February 2016 and select up to six winning games. Prizes will be presented at an awards gala at Museum of the Moving Image in March 2016.
The Challenge is hosted in collaboration with the NYC Department of Education through two innovation initiatives, iZone and Digital Ready, and leaders in the social impact games sector Globaloria, Institute of Play and the Museum of the Moving Image. A consortium of cross-sector partners is providing additional resources, prizes and expertise, including leading game platform Unity and digital learning advocate Susan Crown Exchange (SCE) Foundation. Challenge Theme partners include The New York Times, XPRIZE Foundation, A Kinder World Foundation, NYC Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation and the ACLU.
For more information about the Challenge, visit www.g4cstudentchallenge.org.