How to create video games in your classes

More or less tangential, from this space, we have spoken on occasion of the benefits of programming in the classroom about computer science as  robotics , or of the slope of the  gamificación , more related Technologies Information and Communication (ICT) , and that has led to the use of video games and their logic as dynamic elements of other subjects.  

On this occasion, what we propose is a somewhat different approach , much more frontal than the previous ones , through  the specific benefits of programming video games in class, as well as possible ways of implementing this activity  that also enjoys of a high capacity to motivate students, of a growing support from the educational community. 

 

Advantages of l to Applied Computing 

Despite its current reconsideration thanks, in large part, to the enormous popularity of video games as a form of entertainment, its programming in the classroom is a little new phenomenon. During the eighties, the implementation of computer classrooms in a growing number of educational centers opened the door to the first school programmers thanks to programs such as  Logo , always guided from  a set of pedagogical bases  that have survived these beginnings to continue being valid within the scope of current programming and that we point out below : 

  • It promotes so-called  complex thinking, defined as the ability to interconnect from reflection different dimensions and disciplines that seek to explain reality . 
  • It involves  problem solving  by the students. 
  • It generally requires collaborative work on the part of students. 
  • It is  highly  creative  for all those involved, which in turn provides great motivation and, as a result, also a significant learning of the skills implemented to achieve the ultimate goal of programming a video game. 

But it was new not until 2006 when the term was coined in Computational thinking , a  self – titled article  written by computing theoretical and American engineer Jeanette Wing , and began to sue more or less officially teaching in the classroom as a competition key for the students of the XXI century. A form of learning closely related to computer programming and some parts of  digital literacy  that, in its most popular definition, is based on the following fundamental principles:  

  • Formulation of solvable problems through a computer or other ICT device. 
  • Analysis and logical organization of the available information. 
  • Ability to represent information based on models and / or simulations. 
  • Automate solutions from algorithmic thinking. 
  • Identify, weigh and implement solutions that are effective and efficient. 
  • Ability to transfer this competence to other problems belonging to different areas of knowledge. 

Which brings us, finally, to the rise of classroom programming from methodologies that seek both to streamline subjects related to science and mathematics to the creation of a video game that allows , during its development , the exercise and learning of skills mentioned lines back . 

How to program a video game in the classroom 

Generally,  the greatest fear of programming a video game in class arises from the ignorance of a large part of the teachers and students about computer programming . But there are many tools, from  Scratch  to  MakeCode , from Microsoft, through initiatives such as  Code.org , which advocate teaching this subject in schools, greatly facilitating what is said to be the most complex task of this entire process, making it accessible to practically anyone interested in this issue and who, of course, has access to ICT and an Internet connection that can make it possible. 

But, beyond this strictly specialized area of ​​all those that make up classroom programming,  let’s analyze the steps to follow to make your students programmers  as capable in terms of competence as they are effective in play: 

  • For the sake of effectiveness,  divide the class into groups of up to four students.  
  • Each of the groups must establish the narrative of the video game as a plot synopsis . Issues such as what it will consist of, its setting and main characters must be decided at this point in the development of the video game. Monitor their decisions, debating with your students about the convenience of one or another argument or about narrative resources if you consider them inappropriate. 
  • Distribution of roles by students within each group to distribute the work, which will be done collaboratively among them to achieve their objectives. 
  • Elaboration of the video game itself considered  through tools such as those listed at the beginning of this section. At this point, students will have to consider how to assume the objective of the game, what characters, objects and backgrounds they will have to create to achieve it and how they will interact with each other. 
  • After the video game,  present it and discuss it  before the rest of the class group, explaining all the steps followed for its creation  and, later, test it with the rest of the classmates for evaluation from a purely playful perspective. 

Have you programmed video games in your centers? How was the experience? Share your impressions with us, as well as this post with your contacts. 

To know more:

  • Article :  Teaching to program: a direct way to develop computational thinking , by Patricia Compañ-Rosique, Rosana Satorre-Cuerda, Faraón Llorens-Largo and Rafael Molina Carmona. 
  • Article :  Creation of videogames as an opportunity to learn , by Cristina Duarte.