What is Pixel Play?

Pixel Play is our first prototype for maker camps and workshops in games for youths.

July 27 & 28th. Game Design Camp, Saturday and Sunday 9am-4pm.
Portland YouthBuilders, SE Holgate Blvd. and 92nd Ave
Ages: 12-18

Youth will be able to participate in a "jigsaw" learning model, picking areas of game development expertise they're interested in learning about and transitioning between them through the course of the weekend. Groups learn by making together in three learning pathways: art and animation, computer science and programming, and design. We will be updating enrollment information in June. For more information, please contact our camp coordinator.

The game design camp is developed in program partnership with TechStart Education Foundation, Portland YouthBuilders, ChickTech, Free Arts NW, and the Portland Metro Stem Partnership Collaboratory.

We are expressly committed to providing high value services to youths at the edge of the digital divide or whom lack institutional support.

Our Roadmap

In November 2012, we formed our Game Education Group with subject matter experts in art & animation, programming and design. Our group is engaged in an instructional design process to create, measure and assess learning outcomes. We are starting locally through "ground up" or "grassroots" community organization. Key to our forward progress is beginning with the resources we already have: the talents, passion and excitement of our volunteers.

Starting Points for Maker Education

In our perspective, maker based education is “a playground for the imagination” and for “collaborative world making.” Our group generated 4 starting points for instructional design:

  • Collaborative: intergenerational learning environments based on play, making and design.
  • Replicable: create a model that others can adapt and scale locally to their resources.
  • Modular: everyone tries something in each area.
  • Open Source: you don’t have to be an expert to be a learning advisor.

Instructional Design Process

As we continue our work, we will post both our results and what we are doing in the design process. We hope these steps offer groups a roadmap to start their own game education groups.

Step 1: Group Values Brainstorm (Nov 2012)

What does a maker education in games mean to you?

We asked our team to write one term (noun, adverb, phrase, etc.) on a sticky note. After collecting the responses, we drafted a mind map to see where values clustered and potential alignments. The mind map could have placed values in different relationship, so expect to see changes as we refine and calibrate.

A mind map of a value brainstorm about maker education in games.

Step 2: Clarification Discussion Exercise (Nov 2012)

What Characterizes the Experience of a Maker Camp?

Using a roundtable format, we asked the team to speak to what excites them about maker based learning. Scribes captured oral comments and pulled them together into some key precepts.

  1. Intergenerational: Adult role models, peer youth mentors, and peer learning.
  2. Opportunity: discover new interests and passion for learning.
  3. Capacity Building: Creates resources to further develop skills and capabilities; make it easier to discover next steps.
  4. Treat Failure as Joyful: failing is an opportunity: an iterative practices of discovering, retrying,delving further.
  5. Project Based Learning: collaborative activities that reward working together; gives responsive feedback to experiment and try again.
  6. Hands On, Play Based Learning: An integral connection to physical and tactile experience.

Step 3: Instructional Design Brainstorm (Nov 2012)

These ideas capture part of what we’d like to see and what we value. This isn’t the same as the instructional design “outcomes” brainstorm which will help us dig down into the content better and help us make decisions about the design of the camp. We will do that brainstorm in the December meeting.

  • Structured activities with a limited scope
  • Start out working in non-digital media — create a game given a theme & type of game (i.e., tiles, race to finish — no first-person shooter!)
  • Include structured, team-building, get-to-know-you kind of activities
  • Small teams because working together can be tough. Groups of 3-5.
  • At least one mentor/learning advisor per small group
  • Solve the problem/question of whether kids will come home with a completed game and if so, how to do that in two days—and help them understand “we made it” versus “I made it”
  • "Our goal is not to for everyone to make their own full game" ...but to show how to shape an idea and bring it out into the world together; they should, however, leave with something they can take home.
  • Help kids learn how to pull together an effective team with complementary skills
  • Help develop soft skills/emotional Intelligence (resilience, fortitude, inventiveness).
  • How to peel back & dive deeper (e.g. modding AI but still learning computational thinking and programming).
  • Further resources to growth and exploration. If we don't offer it, how to get it.

Step 4: Instructional Outcomes Brainstorm (Dec 2012)

The goal of this activity is to identify and map discrete learning outcomes. We asked our subject matter experts, brainstorm responses to the question, "after taking the game camp, what will they will be able to do in the real world?" For specialized roles, this can be phrased as, "after taking the game camp, a programmer will be able to in the real world"? Key to the activity is phrasing outcomes as verbs, an activity of doing rather than a state or abstract condition like understanding or happiness. Each verb should be linked to a specific accomplishment or act.

Put each response onto a separate sticky note and place them ontoa shared wall. As each one is placed, the group can ask for clarification or elaboration. After hearing all the responses, the group engages in affinity mapping. Move sticky notes around and group outcomes into clusters. The affinity map provides our first component to identify major areas, alignments and categories of learning outcomes.
The second component of the affinity map is to align the clusters with concrete roles of action or categories of learning that may take place. For example, our group is starting with roles common to game development: project manager, programmer, artist, and designer. We asked the group to place role names above the panels and see if the learning outcomes fit the category.

Since only a portion of our team could meet, we continued the brainstorming using an online white board. We used Wallwisher.

learning outcomes d2.png
Scrollable Affinity Map: http://wallwisher.com/wall/43qshmnghg

Here is the combined affinity map of learning outcomes. The next step is clarifying learning outcomes, which will guide our progress and work in the coming months. Game Camp: Learning Outcomes Master

Most important is that we are working back-and-forth to clarify and define the scope of learning outcomes. As a group, we can change the names of roles or add and remove roles. Clusters that don't fit are moved around to find a better fit.

Step 4: Clarify Learning Objectives (January 2013)

What do we expect someone can do after taking the game camp? Write each role into a single, or at most two, sentence umbrella statement for what a learner can do after taking the educational program. Do the same for the camp as whole.

Step 5: Identify Skills, Concepts and Issues (March 2013)

Game education volunteers recently met to build a Program Map and Learning Objectives Guide. These two components provide a framework to develop modules for specific roles and to extend modules through program partnerships. We'll be posting materials as teams continue to meet and unpack these decisions.

Skills: What can the learner do (during the course) to SHOW YOU s/he can achieve the outcomes once s/he's out in the real world? What NEW SKILLS does the learner need to practice during the workshop in order to achieve the outcomes?

Concepts: What NEW CONCEPTS does the learner need to learn during the workshop in order to achieve the outcomes?
What problems will the learner have to learn how to deal with or overcome during the workshop in order to achieve the outcomes?

Issues: What problems will the learner have to learn how to deal with or overcome during the workshop in order to achieve the outcomes?

Step 6: Formalize Camp Structure and Event (March-June 2013)

Our group has moved to hybrid-model to finalize the "content" of the camp--what learning modules do and how we support them during a two day camp. For internal development, we are relying a great deal on Basecamp (a paid project management software), e-mail and video-enable workgroup meetings. By June, we will finalize our announcement for the game camp.

In development for the camp event:
  1. A generalized layout or framework of the guiding learning objectives for each pathway so that program partners can plug-in and help make modules.
  2. A validated measurement and assessment system including portfolios tailored to maker-based learning.
  3. A choreography of the camp event and volunteer systems for enrollment, registration and training.
  4. Connect with our networks to engage K-12 teachers, STE(A)M practitioners and non-profits organizations.

We are also in early development of Youth-Adult partnerships to develop the camp and future programs for maker-based learning in game design.