‘This Is Not A Game’ Workshop


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The recent launch of the video game Destiny is being hailed as the Biggest launch of a new series in history as Developers Bungie saw sales of half a billion dollars on its first day on the market.

For anyone thinking that video games are a waste of time for kids they would be wrong and probably not very welcome at the ‘This is not a Game’ workshop which is taking place at various points around Ireland.

The workshop is the result of a collaboration between Coderdojo, The United States Embassy in Dublin, and Griffith College Dublin. The aim is to introduce secondary school children to the tools and means to develop and create video games with a social conscience.

The theme for this year is oceans and how they need to be respected and utilized better as one of the planets most important resources.

At the first workshop the day began with a talk from Eoin Carroll, lecturer and Programme Director at Griffith College Dublin. Eoin discussed the nature of games and encouraged the students to think about what is required when designing a game.

There was also a level of interactivity as each of the groups were given slices of toast and asked to consider how many pieces of toast it would take to fill the room and the questions they would need to ask to uncover the answer; at this point many hands were raised and questions began flying around the room like, ‘how big is a slice of toast?’, ‘how big is the room?’, and, ‘can we eat the toast?’

The group next met game designer Brenda Romero who discussed aspects of game design and the elements essential to making a successful game. The group exercise in this session was to create ‘the worst game ever’ a game that would not necessarily be exciting but would have the fundamentals necessary to creating a game.

After a short break the group moved to the conference theatre to hear from marine biologist Lisa-Ann Gershwin, who was in town for the TEDx conference. She spoke of the alarming impact that jellyfish are having on our oceans and this is a result of man’s tendency to interfere with the natural order. Below is her talk from another TED conference.

The final speaker was the headline act. John Romero discussed popular games with the audience. If you do not know who John is chances are that you have heard of some of the games he created, Wolfenstein 3D, DOOM, and Quake are hugely popular games and John has been designing and creating video games since he was a child.

He discussed many famous video games, such as Super Mario Bros, and Halo and asked the audience to consider ‘What makes a great game?’ whether it is a simple 2D game like Pac-Man or the latest entry in the Call of Duty series. He asked the audience to shout out their favorite games so the event was more of a discussion then a lecture.

While I was not part of the target audience for the workshop it was a fascinating event. There was never a sense of adults interacting with children to look at video games, more a sense of a gathering of gamers getting together to discuss what they love, playing games.

This type of event can only be a good thing as it encourages young minds to focus on the things they like to do and plants the seed that they can develop this throughout school, into college and into a career in what has become the largest entertainment medium in the world.

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