Growing up and attending high school in South Florida, two very significant aspects of my teenage experience were my summers spent at Brandeis High School Programs.
Impact Boston 2010 and Genesis 2011 affected my life and opened my mind to a whole other world outside the small community I grew up in. These two summers were filled with exploration, leadership, service, Jewish discovery, social justice, and ultimately contributed to my personal growth and brought me to who I am today.
I am currently a rising junior at Brandeis University, where I have also been working at the Office of High School Programs for the past two years, and my high school summer experiences continue to live with me on a daily basis. This summer I had the amazing opportunity to be a teaching assistant and residential staff member with the 3D Game Design program at Brandeis.
From the first day, each participant took on leadership roles and brought excitement to our programming. Throughout the two weeks it was also amazing to see the manner in which all 36 participants created strong friendships that would last a lifetime. Whether it was in class, during afternoon programming or free time, the teens supported one another and had a great time together!
And as the last day came to an end, our teens decided they would take their communication to another level as they planned to continue developing games together and working on new programming ideas via Skype.
3D Game Design 2014 was a big success and it was so rewarding to know that the participants had such a great experience. I am truly inspired by the work ethic of our participants, as well as their passions and all they achieved this summer!
Two weeks ago, we had a group of thirty-six very talented high schoolers who arrived at Brandeis from around the world with a passion for gaming and programming as well as a motivation to learn. As the participants developed their games throughout the program, they demonstrated their ability to “think outside the box” and the skills they mastered using Blender. From the initial steps of planning, to dividing their tasks, debugging, and the final execution of their games, the members from each group demonstrated the importance of working together as a team.
Through all of the field trips as well as afternoon workshops and programming, the participants were able to learn about the different aspects of gaming and its impact on society. At Fable Vision in Boston for example, we had the chance to see the development of educational games and how the company functions.
Our 3D Game Design program culminated with a trip to Google’s offices in Boston, where our teams of game designers presented their work to Google programmers. This was such a unique experience as each team impressed everyone with the final product they brought to the stage and their hard work really paid off.
This program has been about more than just learning how to build 3-D video games– it’s also about expanding how we think about games and challenging the concept of what gaming will look like in the future. One of our early activities was discussing stereotypes and negative perceptions of games and gaming.
We have been talking about how games can help us in our everyday lives and what games are out there currently making a difference in the world. Some students are designing games to address concepts such as animal abuse and pollution.
Within three days, the participants completed their “crash course” in Blender and last Wednesday they already began working on their games. From brainstorming to modeling, planning levels and making obstacles in each game, the six teams filled the Farber Library with excitement.
Beyond thinking about the future of gaming, we are also exploring how gaming can be fun, social, collaborative and interactive off the screen. The students explored Brandeis in a campus-wide live action role playing game where they had to work together, find clues and save our beloved staff member from the Castle of Usen. They also are competing in a two-week program-wide game called Assassin, where students must interact with and eliminate one another until one person is left standing in the game.
Through exploring gaming in these various ways, we are broadening the spectrum of what gaming can and will look like. We are stretching beyond their consoles and computer screen to search for a greater purpose and application in the incredible and diverse world of gaming.
In addition to class time, workshops on gaming, and parkour, a visit to Emerson college’s EnGAgeMEnt Lab and a trip to York Beach, Maine have kept our 3D Gamers busy! We are all very excited and looking forward to what this week will bring as our participants work on finishing their games in preparation for their presentations!
As vans unloaded to campus and the dining halls filled, excitement filled the air with all of the participants getting to know one another and discussing their passion for gaming.
We started off the program with ice-breakers and a game of charades where groups very creatively acted out machines. We then had an opening session with Professor Tim Hickey, where all of the teens impressed us as they had already explored Blender and began playing some of the pre-made game kits.
In the evening participants created a huge game dump by naming and categorizing all of the video/computer games they know. We didn’t even know that so many games existed! We are all very excited for the next two weeks of programming, gaming and a lot of fun with this great group!
Today’s edition of Brandeis NOW, the daily news site for Brandeis University, features none other than our very own 3D Game Design Program! Take a look at the excellent video created by Brandeis videographer Ryan Scura.
The entire 3D game design program — the training, the game development, the sound engineering, the script writing, ALL of it — culminated down to one single event: the presentation to Google employees in Cambridge, MA. The students worked tireless hours, staying up late at night, giving their blood, sweat, and tears, on working on their 3D games. And yesterday, Google opened up their glass doors (but not their glasses) to the 3D design students.
The students toured the campus, and visited the Google cafeteria, which offered endless food and drinks. The students then went upstairs to a lavish room, where they presented to Google employees their software and marketing plans. The employees were impressed, especially by team Excelmetro Games, who showed of their horror falling game. They won first place, and were awarded Google frisbies, magnets, and toys.
We wrapped up the day by visiting Harvard Square, where students treated themselves to books from the Harvard Coop, food, drinks, and candy. We finally headed home at 7, and enjoyed the evening’s good weather.