Next Generation Learning
by Emily Claire Elan – Playback Magazine
Halifax-based Artech Camps is looking to train the next generation of game makers, and will soon be making inroads in Toronto as it continues its expansion across the country.
Owner and founder Ronnie Scullion and Artech’s Ontario Director were on hand during a Sprockets* film festival giving local teachers a crash course in making video games, a skill they’ll be bringing back to their classrooms to pass along to their students.
Of course, they’re doing more than just teaching them how to make the next shoot ‘em up, as there are some real educational benefits that can come out of the teach. For example, one of the workshop participants, a history teacher, was interested in building a game that progressed through the historical time periods.
The beauty of the program they for the camp, Gamemaker Studio from Yoyogames, is that it allows the user to make the game as simple or as complex as they want. It integrates an icon-based, drag-and-drop user interface for beginners, but also has the option of switching to advanced coding.
“There’s a skill improvement that comes when kids are making these games,” says Scullion. “At first, they just want to make things work, but then they gain the confidence in their own abilities and start to add more complex features.”
The camps, which target kids in the seven-teens age range, launched in 2005 in Nova Scotia. It’s schedule offers a range of programs, from RPG design, creating space games (a la Space Invaders), stop-motion and computer animation.”
“Kids will get a better understanding of cause and effect,” he adds. “Learning how to build a game uses science, math and also teaches logic. The great thing is that they don’t realize it at first. It’s one thing to play a game, and a whole new experience to go behind the scenes and take control.”
*Sprockets is the Children’s Festival, put on by the Toronto International Film Festival or TIFF.