There has been a wonderful sharing of resources in relation to the use of game-making software on the MirandaNet network this week. This is an area that I have some experience in and I would like to share my thoughts and some links on useful tools. Game-making software provides a wonderful tool for young people to tell their stories or to explore issues of interest. In addition to providing opportunities to show their creativity they also learn many invaluable computer skills along the way.
In The Digital Hub we were fortunate that the NCTE purchased some licenses for MissionMaker, http://tiny.cc/3ltm8, a few years back and we trialled it in schools and in out-of-school settings such as youth groups and summer workshops. Mission Maker is a good product that is designed to introduce young people to the concept of creating their own games. We have found that it is most suitable for young people between the age of 10 and 14. The software is relatively easy to use and it is an excellent introduction to game making. While Mission Maker will work with older teenagers, we have found they want to progress on to software that gives them more control. Mission Maker does not have a free version for home use and this has been a problem as young people want to continue building their games outside of school and workshop times. Also the inclusion of player speech is complex and is the nearest element to programming in the game. All in all it is a good program to start with and has given many young people an enjoyable entry into game making, to see some games visit www.thedigitalhubelevate.com/mission_maker. One of the Miranda Net contributors uses the following resources when training young people on using the software, www.new-media-learning.org/training/
Another program we have used in The Digital Hub is Scratch and again this is more applicable for younger children and a great introduction to programming. Mitch Resnick in MIT equates computers with “finger paint” and Scratch certainly allows young and old to create. The big advantage of Scratch for schools is that it is free! For more visit (scratch.mit.edu) and you can see some games created by children in The Digital Hub at www.thedigitalhubelevate.com/scratch_programming. Some of the MirandaNet contributors mentioned Alice, which was developed in Carnegie Mellon and can be downloaded at (www.alice.org). Alice is free and is Java based and appears to be more suitable for older students and a step up from Scratch.
We are just about to embark on a new game-making project in The Digital Hub with a local youth club, a secondary school in Armagh and a school in Gateshead using, Thinking Worlds. We are using the older free version of the software and I will post later on how this progresses. This project is being funded by Léargas and we are looking forward to seeing how the software works with all the young people involved. We are using the game to provide young people with a medium to publish their thoughts on the issues that are important to them in their lives. The focus is on providing young people with a voice but again we believe they will learn new computer and creative skills along the way and enjoy a rich learning experience.
Here are links to a number of other applications that featured on the Miranda Net discussion, some of which may be of interest:
To learn more read the following review by Ollie Bray, this program is for very young children and provides them with an introduction to game creation. http://tiny.cc/mzfug.
Miles Berry recommends Greenfoot and Kodu:
“Greenfoot (www.greenfoot.org/) provides an introduction to Java, but probably needs lots more teacher input or motivated, independent and able students. I don’t know Kodu (research.microsoft.com/en-us/projects/kodu/) myself, but it would be worth exploring. You (and others on (http://www.computingatschool.org.uk/) and their (our) free conference for teachers on 9th July in Birmingham – I’ll be doing a slot on Scratch myself.”
Malcolm Payton recommends Yoyo Games:
“Gamemaker, www.yoyogames.com/, is a free programme that allows students to create interactive games very quickly with no programming. There are lots of free instruction sheets and examples to download.”
David Baugh recommends Gamesalad for the Mac:
“If you are using a Mac look at Game Salad, gamesalad.com. A fairly easy way to make iPhone and iPad games.”
Finally Leon Cych recommends this resource on Kodu:
“Derek Robertson has just posted info on Kodu on the Consolarium blog : http://tiny.cc/b9vs4”
Enjoy and let us know how you get on?