This is a guest blog post from Grant Hathaway who is the CEO of STEM Forged, a STEM Education program designed for teaching private lessons and school programs by playing and building video games.
It's no secret that kids love everything about the games that they play. Kids will often spend their free time discussing games, watching trailers, strategizing with friends, and watching professionals play online. Gamification has been made the primary keyword as educators have attempted to capitalize on this love of video games. Adding points, badges, avatars, leveling systems, and more in a vague attempt to excite students and keep them engaged. The downside of these extrinsic systems is that students will lose interest in the program if the curriculum itself isn’t engaging as rewards slow or become undesirable.
Simply attaching a high score or other points to your current math, science, or other curriculum isn’t the way to keep kids invested long term. But we’ve cracked the code on what is (pun absolutely intended).
We took a deep dive into the process of game design. Looking at the problem solving, docking, digital art, storytelling, project management, and other elements that go into successfully creating a complete video game experience. In our experience teaching students, we’ve documented that the vast majority of students invest themselves more into their projects if they are free of any extrinsic gamification simply because they were interested in the project itself.
Kids forget to care about earning points if they love their project.
And when you focus on what the kids already love, like playing and designing video games, it’s easy to maintain their attention.
For kids, their special interests become their world. And now more and more kids are interested in learning to build games! Game design has become more accessible in recent years, too. It is no longer a hobby, but a full career path with the video game market hitting an all-time high of 66.88 billion USD in 2020. By learning Coding, Math, Computer Science, Digital Art, and Design through programs like STEM Forged students are already using these skills to create games for their friends and family to enjoy.
Showcasing their work and makes them proud to finish projects; and showcasing projects in video game design is so easy to do. Plus, kids will love the chance to play one another's video game projects. You’ll find that students are more intrinsically motivated than if they are just chasing the next badge or level. Gamification in the curriculum is not inherently bad, so long as the goals and outcomes of your core educational experience can stand for themselves, with the game elements being an additional layer on top.
Kids WANT to build video games.
This is one reason why we choose to use the Blocksmith XR Builder as our introductory Game Design software.
The key is that Game Design speaks to any kind of student; artistic students get to design while computing students get to learn code.
The multidisciplinary nature of game design provides a hook to just about everyone.
And also gives them motivating reasons to explore the other related fields - without dangling a superficial carrot in front of them. This means that implementing a video game design unit or course in your school can be done through a digital design class, a coding class, or even a dedicated game design class.
It's also a great launchpad for other topics.
Using game design as a starting point for children gives them a wide range of technical skills and builds from a concept they already love and enjoy.
Creativity, problem-solving, and other valuable skills, such as reading, spatial visualization, map reading, hand-eye coordination, and more can all be taught through the guided playing of video games (just wait and see what they do to present their next science project when they've learned to create video games. Hint* science project video game!).
Admittedly, video game design does come with a lot of learning for teachers hoping to implement it.
That’s why STEM Forged works with schools to bring everything needed for a game design or esports program.
We bring a curriculum that kids are excited about, where they can be proud of their creations, and create their own goals. We also bring instructors in to remotely do the teaching, grading, and tutoring, so teachers are free from the massive amount of learning they would need to troubleshoot video game projects with students.
If you're considering the possibility of implementing a game-centered class or afterschool program, contact us for a free consultation.
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