Constructionism in Practice: Designing, Thinking, and Learning in a Digital World

By Yasmin Kafai; Mitchel Resnick | Go to book overview

4
Learning Design by Making Games Children's Development of Design Strategies in the Creation of a Complex Computational Artifact

Yasmin B. Kafai

I made a game. It started out very slowly at first. It is very hard to put together your own game. You may think it is easy to do because of all the video games people play. They look so simple but try making your own game and it's a totally different story! Well, I started out with very high expectations thinking that I could make a great game in very short time. It turned out that I'm still not done with it even after about 4 or 5 months. (Rosemary, 10 years, toward the end of the project)

I really expected even though the teacher told me that it would take months and months and months to finish the game, I really did expect to do it, like start it, in one week and finish it up the next week. . . . I just went like: Oh, this will be easy. All it will be, is a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and a little research, and I'll be finished. But it didn't turn out that way because I had to spend a lot of days on research and programming. There were tons of problems, like one time my turtle was messed up. Plus I had to make all the graphics and everything. So it had problems, but it has been fun. (Jeremy, I I years, at the end of the project)

As these quotes of two young game designers illustrate, there is something to be learned from making games that goes beyond learning programming and specific subject matter. The students' descriptions reflect their early expectations about making games, which were probably influenced by their experiences with regular classroom work and home assignments. Conventional school assignments rarely give students the opportunity to spend 6 months on a complex project such as making a game. Hence, most students have little experience in design (i.e., planning, problem solving, researching, dealing with time constraints, modifying expectations, and bringing everything together into one project). Previous research even suggests that young students may not be able to accomplish such projects because children have limited abilities in planning and dealing with

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