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Game Developers: The Next Generation

Justin Amirkhani | 2 Sep 2011 13:00
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Since the release of Ponycorns, players have donated over $3000 to Cassie's education fund, ensuring her the opportunity to pursue game development if she chooses. Ryan still believes in self-tutelage - that's how he learned - but is hopeful for a future where game education is commonplace. "Can you imagine where we'd be if everyone making videogames today did have a proper education in game development? Education isn't important - those who want to will get there eventually. However, if we do have proper education, we'll all get there faster. I'm all for getting there faster, so let's get some computer camps up in this bitch."

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Beyond computer camps, Creighton is working on a new toolkit to help parents and kids make games together. Since his windfall of celebrity, he's taken the opportunity to help expand the potential for future child game makers. Presented at Casual Connect Seattle this July, the Untold Graphic Adventure Game System looks to offer simple non-intensive programming systems for families to use. "This is the online equivalent of a matchstick model kit - I give you the instructions and supplies, and you add the time and quality bonding experience with your child."

He's not the only one pushing the efforts for more child developers. Joel Levin, a teacher in a New York City private school, has been using Minecraft to teach his students the fundaments of communal projects and though the course is not directly intended to teach design basics, he can't help but notice that kids pick up on the principles anyway, "Honestly, it never occurred to me but if you think about it, the kids are certainly picking up game design concepts along the way. When they are creating buildings or outdoor spaces, I ask them to think about how future gamers will experience the location. How will players know which way to go? Creating and perfecting experience for others seems - to me - like the heart of game design."

Programs and applications are starting to spring up everywhere that are enabling tomorrow's game creators to get a head start on their skills today. On the topic of his own program, Jaime Woo says that it's not necessarily about developing curriculums to teach children how to do things, but to provide avenues for them to let out already latent skill: "They're already experts at playing and creating games. Just go to any playground and see how many ideas are floating around. What's important is to guide those ideas and to refine the concepts by asking questions about the games: Why is this fun? What makes it fun? What would make it more fun? They're really the same questions adults have to ask when they make games."

Like in the way guitars and drums were added to school music programs to provide an outlet for young creatives, it's quite possible videogames could do the same for a modern generation. As games grow in popularity we're going to need more people trained in their production and the earlier we start educating them, the better our chances of seeing the first generation of developers to have grown up not just playing games but making them, too.

Justin Amirkhani is a freelance journalist in Toronto, host of cgrpodcast.com and can be found on Twitter as @Keadin.

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