EVENT: Monday, July 28, 2008, 10:15-11:45am @ IBM

Every year, IBM coordinates a camp for about 20 7th-8th grade students who are typically under-represented within the sciences. This year, IBM Poughkeepsie organized IGNITE camp for boys. The boys attended the camp daily and were presented with various topics and projects throughout.

I volunteered to present on “Introduction to Game Design”. I should have considered my audience a bit more, as I didn’t realize the short attention span many boys at that age have. However, I presented them an overview of game mechanics and how they are implemented, allowed the boys to design their own games based on the card system Mary Flanagan uses, and then explained some typical positions available in the game industry. Hopefully it gave the boys some motivation and some variety.

The presentation was a good experience for me. I was able to get the feel for what teaching children was like, instead of just conferences. Education is important for me and hopefully I helped convince them the point of doing well in school. Having a goal definitely helps to push one through classes. Another interesting realization were the games the boys played. I attempted to use fairly generic games, assuming they had not played some of the popular games out there, but when asked, they quickly shouted Grand Theft Auto IV and World of Warcraft.

When presented with an environmental game, the boys constantly requested guns and cars. They could care less about talking to avatars in the world. They just wanted to explore and blow up the terrain. It took a lot to convince them to just keep playing the game.

Overall it was interesting to observe how each group interacted and the different levels of maturity level. It was interesting to see how each obviously had their own story and how each responded to their situation.

It’s important to remember everyone has their own back story that makes them who they are.

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