A Melbourne High School has recently introduced Game Design, a Year 10 elective subject, where students create games using industry standard tools.
Director of information and communication technology (ICT) , Adrian Janson is the man behind the subject. He is embracing new technology and using the world of gaming to increase engagement amongst students, and is having a bit of fun at the same time.
His Game Design class involves Year 10 students learning how to develop games using C# and XNA (a development platform for the Xbox 360). Adrian has produced the materials for the class and has also been using some of the materials on the XNA Creator’s Club website, http://creators.xna.com/en-AU/. Although C# has been challenging for Adrian’s students, they have been highly engaged, programming in a language that they know is used in the industry.
Adrian has eased the learning curve by creating tutorials which take students step by step through the game creation process. By the end of the semester, students are building simple 2D arcade games with full animation, multimedia and multiplayer features.
Adrian has been teaching programming for 18 years and has been using games in the classroom for about 10. Whilst he has taught a number of programming languages in that time, this is the first time that he has used tools that have enabled his students to write games for a console. Having access to tools such as these has created a dynamic classroom environment where students are highly engaged and excited.
Adrian spends time introducing his students to the theory of game design, including discussing a history of the gaming industry and the different genres that exist. His students have definite ideas as to what makes a good game, with some of them stating the need for a good story and concept, or that the games should be multiplayer so that it’s different every time you play.
Commenting on his elective subject Adrian said:
“In the past, we‘ve used lots of different tools, but there’s always been a disconnect between what we’ve been doing in the classroom and what happens in the industry. This new class using the Xbox 360 has taken everything to a new level. It’s not like I’m telling students ‘Ok let’s make a tic-tac-toe game.’ Suddenly, we are doing something legitimate. We’re writing a game for the Xbox 360 – the kids go bananas.”
Adrian’s classes are a great start to a positive future for the games industry with many students considering studying the subject further. Whilst most of his students came into the class with no programming knowledge they leave with a new found understanding and admiration for the industry.