I just picked up a part-time job teaching game design to underserved youth in my neighborhood. The funny thing is, I’ve never really made a video game before, and I don't know how to program. What I do have, however, is three years of experience writing about games and plenty of industry contacts, all thanks to Bitmob. I was able to sell myself on those points, and now I’m using my insider perspective to put together a kick-ass program.
The Variety Boys & Girls Club (my new employer) is big on field trips. My boss mentioned eventually taking the kids to see a game studio. I’m pretty sure I can make this happen.
Through Bitmob, I’ve learned how powerful a well-written, respectful email to the right person can be. I’ve also made connections with people from several local developers, so that helps as well. Hopefully, someone down here, whether it be EA, Activision, Square Enix, Disney Interactive, etc., will be interested in giving a group of aspiring, young game makers a tour and a behind-the-scenes peek at how they work.
If, by chance, none of that pans out (or even if it does), we can always head down to Culver City, Calif. for IndieCade in the fall.
Three years ago, Bitmob sent me to cover this local independent games festival as my first field assignment. From my time attending and volunteering with IndieCade since then, my views on the industry and the medium in general have expanded greatly. I’ve had the good fortune of meeting tons of independent developers, some of whom have connections to the University of Southern California’s Interactive Media Division and the University of California Los Angeles’ Game Lab.
Looking back, I’ve built up a solid network of experts. All of them are passionate about game design. Through them, I’m confident I can access the resources, ideas, and inspiration I need to build a successful program. In fact, I’ve already begun to. Plus, I’m eager to bring in some indie developers and college lecturers to give little talks to the kids about what it’s like making and redefining video games.
Finally, I’d like to note the value of covering various video game preview events for Bitmob. From those, I’m familiar with seeing titles in unfinished states and speaking to the different members of development teams. Though neither of these things are substitutes for hands-on experience making games, they’ve at least helped to better familiarize me with what goes into the process.
For my class, I plan to introduce the kids to development software that doesn’t require programming like GameMaker, WarioWare D.I.Y., and even level-editor modes (or for the younger students, paper and pencil). I actually discovered that particular WarioWare title when writing the Video Blips column a couple of years back.
Taking all of these points into consideration, I feel like my time in the industry via Bitmob (and its affiliated outlet, GamesBeat) has prepared me perfectly for this position. Obviously, I still have much to learn and details to figure out. This program is still in its infancy, however, and I’m excited to grow with it.
The main goal isn’t to teach the local youth how to program. It’s to expose them to different worlds (digital or otherwise), introduce some basic game-design concepts, and help them to view themselves as potential creators of interactive content, not just consumers.
Thanks in part to the times we live in, I don’t have to be a programming whiz to fill this teaching and facilitating role. And, considering the scope of what I have planned, being a games journalist is looking like a much better starting point.
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