January 19, 2015

High School (Video) Game Design

After almost 2 years of learning to program and the (very) basics of game design I have the chance to teach Game Design using Unity and Blender at my school. It doesn't take a genius to realize that the kids would love creating their own games.

So why design games at a high school?

Because game design is creativity in action. Everything that is wrong in (traditional) math education is right in game design.

If you're still with me  then let me explain myself a little more.

I've taught high school math for 10 years. I'm ready for a change and so are the students.

So after yet another year of hearing from the math department about how we need to "tighten up our assessments" or "increase our graduation requirements" I've come to a couple conclusions about math and math education. That being there are two big reasons our students don't do well in math:
  1. The content is not developmentally appropriate for all students. 
  2. The students simply don't give a shit about the math we are teaching. 
Go talk to a elementary teacher (my wife is one) and ask about how the expectations for a student have changed. Upping the standards doesn't equate to better learning. We confuse an intermediate step (testing) with the final product (people). Training monkeys to pass tests is not education.

To my second conclusion. If the kids care about what they are doing they will work hard. They will engage. I think the success behind Dan Meyer's 3 Act math is not his ability to find problems (although that's pretty good) but that the problems are engaging and the student care about what they're doing! It's not that they're "real world" its that they are interesting. 

[Game Design enter scene right]

I suspect game design might be the hardest class students will take in high school - if they really want a quality product they're going to have to work for it. They have no idea what they're getting into. So I'm sure some will lose interest when it takes more than 2 hours to create the next Skyrim, but I'd bet my paycheck that most will suffer through challenges because they know as a result they will get to create something cool, something meaningful and something that they have created.

Game design combines creativity with analytical problem solving. It brings art, computer science and math together. Could I ask for more?

So here begins a new adventure. An adventure into the somewhat unknown. I'm so stoked!