Game Design in Education: Take Advantage of the Power of Play

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Facilitator: Dr. Matthew Farber

Can designing games about real-world issues teach students empathy, systems thinking, and design thinking? After organizing a series of game jams around serious social issues—immigration, climate change, future cities—the answer was an overwhelming yes. A game jam is a gathering of people—youth, adults, professional game developers, or really anyone—to design and prototype one or more games in a short time span. The model is similar to that of a hackathon, where participants have a limited amount of time to work on a project using an iterative design process. Game jams can help increase social engagement, community building, new economies, motivate and inspire design, experimentation, and innovation. This allows students anywhere to learn basic game development skills (coding, art and design, storytelling, in combination with communication, collaboration, and planning), all infused with STEAM skills.Included with be a curriculum guide that includes over 20 unique lessons and activities developed by digital learning organizations in the HIVE NYC network. The lessons can be used individually, to inspire new curricular tools, or for game jam events. Each activity in this guide has been implemented and iterated on based on student feedback into a “one-hour lesson plan.” The guide is meant to be a resource to educators running game design activities with their students, and show the potential of design activities with their students, and show the potential of teaching game design using real-world stories, issues and assets.