The first two days of GameLab, our teen leadership gaming camp, have been exciting, busy, insightful, and yes, very joyful. It’s been a long time since I’ve taught kids in a lab-type environment, and the one-on-one time with a group of engaged gamers is fascinating. Because the group (now our guild) ranges from 13-17, there is huge diversity in body type, developmental ability, emotional needs, and capabilities that I hadn’t anticipated. They are such a talented group. We have a concept artist who likes to draw for games, our newly appointed guild-blogger who strives to be a top-rated Amazon.com reviewer, a young man who creates his own sprites using Paint, and then shares his collection through video on YouTube. The list goes on.
Week 1 of GameLab emphasizes “Games and Play!” It’s very loosely structured (purposely) to encourage the kids to play, socialize, and develop a sense of “guildness” that can’t be imposed externally by a teacher. Day 1 was focused on orientation, where to get a laptop, how to login to our guild site, what games were available to play. Deadline Gears (one of our teen TA’s) created a tournament using a Wii game called “Boom Blocks.” Contestants paired off against each other in playoffs until we had a final winner who became the “Player of the Day.” The Player of the Day had his picture taken and posted on our guild site.
By the beginning of day 2, the group was totally self-directed. They arrived, got their own laptops out, brought their own games and devices, and jumped right in to gameplay. Yoshistar volunteered to be our guild blogger and wrote our first guild entry, and Invisigoth helped out getting flash drives out of packaging. Everyone received a 4G flashdrive and mouse that they can keep after the camp is over. We had another tournament, and Kittiking101 earned the Player of the Day honor, lots of big clapping and support from the guildies.
The large group gaming activity today was playing Pirates of the Caribbean online, and appx. seven players were active in it (all GameLab gaming activities are optional, based on interest…this is summer camp, after all). Those who downloaded the software appeared engaged. I was personally frustrated at the length of the installation, and between the download times and kids coming over who wanted to chat, I never did get in today. Kids reported enjoying making their avatar (I took a picture of one guildie’s face using my iPhone so he could mimic his own facial features while designing), and one commented on the how they enjoyed the complexity of the environment.
I’m looking forward to tomorrow where we begin to dig into video production and YouTube hosting. Many gamers love to share aspects of their life through digital media, and we’re encouraging a wide range of meta-game activities. Onward ho…