Wow, after months of planning, 3D GameLab summer camp finally begins this afternoon! http://3dgamelab.org Originally, GameLab was just another summer camp for kids who like to game. As our planning progressed, Chris Haskell and I realized we were turning the camp into a living meta-game, that is, a game experience around the games themselves.
For those of you who may be interested in duplicating a GameLab summer camp experience in your own school, here are some of the steps we’ve taken to this point:
- Reserve facilities and book the date. We used a mobile computer lab with 24 laptops. Our camp only runs 1-4 each day, but we should have reserved it for the full day. We’ve installed additional equipment in the gaming lap (somewhat akin to a gaming arcade feel), and it would be nice to know that the setup is preserved over the course of the camp. We had to work out some scheduling agreements with others who wanted to use the lab during this time.
- Create a flyer and host it on the web. Here’s the flyer we created for our summer camp. http://edtech2.boisestate.edu/haskellc/gamelab.html Note the poster within the flyer. We heard that some teachers printed these off to give to the kids to take home.
- Use your social networks to advertise. We sent out announcements through every social network channel we have, including the university announcement for summer camps.
- Create a Google Form for sign-up. This is simple and easy. Google Forms create a nice WYSIWYG interface for parents to fill out registration information. The data goes into a spreadsheet that you can view at any time in Google Docs.
- Approvals and payment. Make sure you have approvals of your supervisors, as well as Risk Management, if you work at a university. We accepted payment through our university credit card processing system, but Paypal would work nicely, as well.
- Set up a Guild Site. We used Google Sites to create our “guild site,” but any wiki would do. Note we included a list of games so kids could login on day 1 and start playing, as well as place for them to put their pics, host discussions, etc.
- Prep the lab. In addition to our mobile laptops, Chris had the great idea to use projectors to set up some of our xbox, wii, and gamecube games on the blank walls. We easily spent a full afternoon on this setup. YouTube and music was hosted on the instructor screen, thus turning the computer lab into a game arcade, complete with media and/or tunes. Consider putting gaming posters on the walls.
- Keep materials organized. Joan, our great admin assist, created a binder hosting all the materials for gamelab, including tabs for permission slips, contact info, etc, so we’re ready the first day.
- What are your quests? If you want to meta-game, you’ll need to consider what quests to give your kids, and how they’ll be tracked. For example, meta-game quests might include: teach a friend to play a game they don’t know, play an mmorpg game, build something in a virtual world, lead a raid, take a screenshot of yourself gaming and put it on the guildsite, etc. Chris and I brainstormed about 50 quests before the lab started, and we’ll be entering these into our meta-game tracking tool. We’re also designing the platform so the kids can create and tag their own quests. How’s that for self-empowered learning (and fun)?
- Software installation. Nelson helped us with installation of software and patches for Teen Second Life and WoW. We didn’t want to use valuable kid time installing long downloads. We also installed Camtasia and Ventrilo. Our teens will be recording their gameplay for YouTube production using iMovie, and we love Camtasia on the Mac for the purpose. By using Vent with our teens, we can model appropriate online gaming chat, and provide a channel for group communication as needed during the lab.