Coding for game design (C4GD) is an initiative to teach game design and coding to high school students. C4GD is a 2-week intensive bootcamp for pre-college students offered by NYU. I have contributed as the lead game design instructor and the lead coding instructor for two academic years.
Contributions: Lead game design instructor, Lead coding instructor, Curriculum design, and Scientific writing.
– Taught game design and coding at a NYU summer program for high school students. Codesigned curriculum that included games to teach game design and coding.
– Led live coding and debugging sessions to teach C# coding in Unity. Guided over 20 student-led game projects to completion.
– Helped conduct a qualitative research study to understand students learning process during game design and published the findings.
– 6th Annual Conference on Creativity and Fabrication in Education: Questions as prototypes: Facilitating children’s discovery and elaboration during game design. Access article
– 10th Annual Subway Summit on Cognition and Education Research: “Game making is harder than I thought”: Game design driven by children’s own interests Access poster
Background & Goal
Many students are introduced to coding in abstract contexts. Some students find that coding skills are not applicable to their interests. Game design for coding aims to overcome this problem. We designed the C4GD program to provide an environment where students could learn and implement coding in a creative context. We setup the following learning goals for our students:
– To introduce game-design fundamentals including iteration, playtesting, team participation, documentation, and communication.
– To introduce coding skills in a applied context where students could ‘play’ with what they learned.
– To cultivate design thinking and the ability to critically examine games and other forms of media.
– To promote self-directed learning using freely available resources and creative application of coding skills.
C4GD is a project-based inquiry learning program. The two-week curriculum includes a guided discovery phase and a self-directed learning phase. In the first week, students participate in game design lectures and live coding sessions. Each day, we first introduce game design skills followed by the related coding skill. For example, when students learn level design fundamentals, they immediately apply those design skills into code by designing level maps for their game. Throughout this week, students learn new game design skills and apply these skills in their own games. During this period, we introduce ways to modify the core game and encourage students to customize the game code.
In the second week, students form game development teams, and are guided through a week-long game development sprint. Students are guided through ideation, playtesting, design documentation, development planning, and development sessions. The goal for this phase is to help students become independent in their development process. I gradually shift my role from being an instructor to a facilitator and problem-solver. In later stages of the program, students encounter unique challenges when coding their own designs. In these stages, I share my process of problem solving to model the game development process.
I helped conduct qualitative research on how students learn game-design. This study was conducted independent of the C4GD program. We collected data during the 6-hour workshop hosted over 3 sessions using audio records, field notes, design artifacts, and surveys. We coded the data to find analytical themes and refined shared interpretations among researchers. Results showed how fixed vs flexible group affect prototyping strategy and ideation. We also studied how questions from facilitators helped teams elaborate and generate ideas. The findings from this study guided the design of the C4GD program.
Outcomes from the C4GD program are hard to measure. But there are some clear areas of growth.
1. Student interest in the program has grown steadily over two years since the start of the program. The C4GD program now receives applications from across USA and from countries around the globe.
2. The quality of instruction has also grown steadily. We use an iterative design process for our program, and make changes to the curriculum after each session. Using this process, we have polished the curriculum and teaching process.
3. Most importantly, we have observed improvements in the quality of student projects. We aim to continually refine the curriculum and instructions to keep improving creative work from the students.