Miami-Dade Gamemaker Workshop

Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this past week, I had the pleasure of teaching a workshop at Florida International University for 25 Miami-Dade high school students.  The workshop was focused on building Windows 8 games using a “drag and drop” game making tool called Gamemaker (tutorials coming soon).  During this three day workshop, we used the first day to go through a couple of tutorials, the second to let the students start working on their own game, and the third to finish up and present their games to the class.  Little did we know how awesome of a response we would get from them.

We could tell they were enjoying themselves from the start, the first sign being that several of them skipped following the tutorials line for line and were already making amendments and customizing.  To be honest, I didn’t have the courage to “explore” like this when I did my first Gamemaker tutorial, which was only about a week and a half ago.  I was doing everything strictly how the tutorial said to, but these students were already adding different graphics and actions.  Their immediate understanding of how this game making tool worked was incredible.

Now to give you an idea of what we really accomplished during those three days.  We had 17 of the 25 students present and demo their games on the last day.  Keep in mind that none of them, except one, had ANY previous experience with game making.  That said, here is the premise of a couple of the games

  • a block of cheese dodging mice
  • a maze game where the snake eats fruits and finds the bomb to go to a new level
  • a brickbreaker type game where the bricks were pictures of opposing football teams (a great way to get motivated for a big win in High School football!)
  • an outer space sprinting challenge
  • dogs vs. cats

…just to name a few. 

Obviously this doesn’t cover all of them, but you get the picture.  These games are quite an accomplishment for students coming from little to no experience, and that should tell you a little bit about how talented they are.  Finally, probably the most amazing aspect was that the students were able to take their personal interests and be completely creative and imaginative in how they created their game, which is exactly what we wanted.

All in all, we started out day one with 25 high school students who were a little nervous and unsure about what they signed up for, and finished with 17 confident presenters.  This made my experience working with the Miami-Dade high school system, Florida International University, and, ofcourse, the students a great one.  I am definitely hoping and looking forward to working more with these groups in the future.