It Could Be U Camp, Day 3

Today we took the students to see Austin Community College’s Game Development Institute. Apparently a couple of them thought we were just going to play video games the whole time. But alas, we were at a school, not an arcade.

The main focus of the day was explaining video game development to the students. First and foremost; one person can’t develop a good game on his or her own (With a couple of exceptions). Like in most fields these days, a team is required for any chance of success to exist. Normally, a game development team is comprised of artists, designers, programmers, and sound engineers.

I’m going to extrapolate a bit on the fact that most games require an entire team to develop them. You can’t make a game if not everyone knows what something is going to look like in it, so that makes artists a necessity. You’ve got to have a sound engineer; nobody wants to play a game without sound. I for one certainly don’t like playing games that’re either pointless or completely imbalanced, so that’s why there are designers to actually give games a structure. Finally, there are programmers who work everything together to actually make the game. So, the teachers made it very clear to the students that developing a game is rather expensive, time consuming, and requires a lot of man-power, but they also made sure to point out that acquiring the skills to become a part of a game development team is much easier and the opportunities to participate on a team creating a new video are readily available.

After a while, the students were taken on a tour of ACC’s Northridge Campus. Most of the tour took place in the 2000 building. The tour took them through the Science Wing on the second floor in which they saw assorted animal skeletons as well as live animals on display. Afterwards they were taken down through the gym. Upon entering the gym the student’s were allowed to try out just about any piece of equipment they could get their hands on.

Upon returning to the 3000 building, where the day had begun, the students were introduced to some of the techniques used by artists working in the game development field. The students were shown the idea of concept art, which is a hastily drawn, almost scribble-esqe representation of a concept simply drawn to portray the general idea of something from one person to another. After that the students were shown how simple 3D modeling software has become through a demonstration.

Once those presentations had finished the students were moved to a classroom on the other side of the building. It was then that they were given the challenge of attempting to act as game designers in the very earliest stage of a game’s development. The students were asked to come up with what normally made a game enjoyable. Once the concepts were given, they were asked to expand upon them. As they continued to expand upon their ideas they were shown how they also intersected as the ideas were fleshed out more and more.

Finally, as a fun way to end the day off, the students were challenged with creating concept art. They weren’t simply asked to just draw a character or a gun they thought would look neat; they were also encouraged to draw things such as maps or game levels that would need to be visualized and expanded upon before they could be added into a game. Obviously, most students their age are pretty imaginative and draw quite often, so we definitely had a lot of neat things come from what they drew.

So, the kids definitely learned a lot about video game development today. The camp might be coming to a close, but we’ve still got one more day to go, so let’s make the best of it!

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