This is a guest post by Kevin Miklasz, Director of Digital Learning at Iridescent.
About two weeks ago, we hosted a Hive Game Jam at the Iridescent science studio in the Bronx. We had a lot of fun at the event, which turned into a huge collaborative effort between several Hive organizations. Institute of Play was an official partner on the Hive grant that funded this event, and helped plan and lead the introductory activity. But staff from MOUSE, Exposure Camp, Global Kids, the YMCA of Greater NY, and a visitor from Hive Pittsburgh all helped make this event a success. But thanks most of all to all the great kids that showed up, who were really eager and willing to learn new skills and make new games.
I want to share the game design platforms we used at the event, and some of the games produced by Hive youth using those platforms. Please check them out!
Gamekit challenges provide kids with simple game constraints that spur great design thinking. The “Find Play in Things” challenge was used in our initial activity, and led to the creation of 11 new games. For the main portion of the event, kids had a choice of two different Gamekit challenges–“Mix Strategy & Luck” and “Create Competition.” Kids made a set of rules for their games, diagrams, and pics. These games can be played at home with everyday objects like cards, dice, balls, paper, and markers.
Three games were created under these two challenges by three separate teams of students.
In this game, one player judged which of two teams performed a pair of actions best. Teams took turns flicking the spinner that would initiate the contest. These weren’t just any actions though–this game designer had keen insight for fun. Some of the hilarious combinations included tweeting like a bird while dancing like a chicken or laughing as loudly as possible. After two rounds, one group of playtesters were sold!
This game designer’s masterful knowledge of Greek mythology inspired her game. She created a trivia board game in which players had to correctly answer a question related to Greek mythology in order to move forward. Reach the top of Mount Olympus and attain the god/dess-like status needed to win. Questions were divided into levels of difficulty, for those players who may have forgotten how Medusa’s hairstyle came to be.
This larger group decided to create a game that all of them could play at the same time! During one timed round, players divided into two teams. Each team would try to throw down as many cards of the same number before the timer ran out. The team with the most matches after three rounds won.
Twine makes it easy to create interactive stories that are like Choose Your Own Adventure games. Kids played a sample Twine game, and then created their own short interactive adventure. One of the easiest platforms to use, Twine requires no programming skills and allows you to create rich, detailed stories where the possibilties are limitless.
These games output a HTML file. Follow these links to play the game in your web browser.
The Gravity Ether
First, kids were invited to play through the first couple levels of this physics simulation game. After completing this, they then focused their attention on the game’s level editor, where they could create their own levels and publish them on the game’s server. Creating levels and acting as a game designer allowed kids to learn more about physics than they could grasp from just being a player. This game is still in beta, but to check out the levels created by the students in the beta build of the game, download a Mac or PC version of the game here and go to “More Levels.” Check back into the main Ethers webpage in about a month when the game will be fully complete and available.
Right now, we can share some screenshots of the levels created by the kids. We had nine levels created in total at the Game Jam.
This was the most advanced game design platform we offered. Kids worked on the Hackagame website, where they can access the code to a fully-functioning HTML version of Pong or Arkanoid. They have to hack and modify the game in some significant way by changing the HTML code, producing a fundamentally different game when they are done. Thanks to Chloe Varelidi for creating and pointing this platform out to us!
We had seven different game hacks created by kids at this event! Check out a few of them here:
Thanks again to everyone who participated, whether kids, parents or staff! We’re excited to host more of these events in the future.