What is it?
The NYU Coding for Game Design (C4GD) Summer Program is a two-week long summer enrichment program for high school students where they learn the basic principles and methods of coding, as well as the foundations of game design. During the program, students work alone and in groups to create their own games based on the lessons they’ve learned.
Over three two-week sessions, I served as Lead Instructor alongside two other instructors to teach lessons about game design and coding by having them build games in the Unity game development engine.
I was the principal designer and lead instructor for the Coding for Game Design program. I managed the design and direction of nearly every element of the program, from the design of the advertising flier, to the curriculum design, to the day-to-day instruction. Alongside the other instructors, I organized the program’s field trips to the Hololens project, coordinated the equipment the students received, and developed activities and projects for the students to complete.
One design element I am proud of during the C4GD program was a gamified mechanic that incentivize pro-social behavior. Through this program, called the Star System, students could earn stars through good behavior. Stars provided no direct benefit to individual students, but all the students’ stars were posted in the classroom, so everyone could see how many stars everyone had. If the whole class was well behaved (during a field trip, etc.), it was possible for everyone to earn a star. As the class reached certain milestones (50/100 stars for the class), the whole class would earn rewards, such as the personalized hoodies I designed and ordered for the program.
I also worked every day with the students through the program. I was the lead instructor for the game design portion of the course, and created individual lessons and activities to teach students about different design philosophies and approaches. I worked alongside two other instructors, Al Olsen and Shashank Pawar, to provide a well-rounded experience with a range of expertise, including design, coding, and project development.
One design principle for the program was to make things fun and interactive, not just dry lessons sitting at a computer all day. Nearly every day included some kind of activity, as well as workshop time for students to develop their games. Students also had committed play time scheduled into the day so they could socialize and explore different types of games, including CREATE’s VR system.
Throughout the program, students ended up creating a total of 3 games – a mod to an existing game, then creating a simple game by themselves, and then students developed a game in a group, where the students pitch their game ideas to each other, pick an idea to work on, take on development roles, then coordinate to create their game ideas. On the final day of class, we throw a party where everyone plays each other’s games.