Gaming Worlds: Secondary Students Creating an Interactive Video Game

By Alexander, Amanda; Ho, Tuan | Art Education, January 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

Gaming Worlds: Secondary Students Creating an Interactive Video Game


Alexander, Amanda, Ho, Tuan, Art Education


Secondary students participate in experiential learning by creating a video game at a summer camp, where they learn software programs such as Photoshop and Maya, learning and working independently and in groups.

Although the first computer games appeared in the 1950s, it was not until the 1970s that the United States saw a surge in arcade games, home video game consoles, and home computer games (Suellentrop & Totilo, 2012; The first video game?, 2008).Today, the video gaming business is a multibillion-dollar industry. Over the past 2 decades, the business has gone from a cottage industry selling to a few niche customers to a fully grown branch of the entertainment industry (Cross, 2011). According to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a consulting firm, the global video game market was worth around $56 billion in 2010, which is more than twice the size of the recorded-music industry (Cross, 2011). Moreover, PwC predicts "video games will be the fastest-growing form of media over the next few years, with sales rising to $82 billion by 2015"(Cross, 2011, para. 3).

With the soaring sales and rising popu- larity of video games with youth, how might art educators utilize this technology to engage secondary students? How might we develop more creative high school or university programs where secondary students can create video games through active, experiential, dialogical learning (Dewey, 1910, 1934)? Art educators have written for some time about digital visual culture within the field of art education (Dunn, 1996; Heise & Grandgenett, 1996; Keifer-Boyd, 1996; Krug, 2002; Sweeny, 2004; Tavin, 2002; Taylor 8c Carpenter, 2002); however, there are few case studies examining the learning potential of secondary students through the act of creating a video game. Patton and Kenyon (2010) address pedagogical applications of video games, providing examples of game development workshops, such as the Smithsonian Associates Summer Program. They also mention different types of gamebuilding software and a need for more student opportunities in creating interactive systems and devices like video games. At the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), students had the opportunity to create a video game through a summer program.

University of Texas at Arlington: SEED Program

Since the summer of 2006, UTA, in the Dallas/Ft Worth metroplex, has invited secondary students to participate in their summer SEED program on campus. The program was developed by the Dean of the School of Architecture and the Chair of the Art + Art History Department SEED (Strategies, Events, Episodes + Devices) is taught by distinguished faculty at UTA and stresses experiential learning (Dewey, 1910, 1934) through development of creativity and exploration with a variety of art and design media and methods. Although the program has morphed since its inception, each 2-week summer period a different medium is chosen; the seven programs thus far have included painting, printmaking, illustration, 3-D visualization (2-D drawing and 3-D sculpting), video game creation, and more. Every fall, 30 high schools in the Dallas/Ft Worth metroplex nominate two student candidates for the program who have an interest in art and design and would like to enhance their creative vocabulary and develop their art portfolio.

This article will discuss, examine, and share the process of development and implementation of the SEED programs student-created video game as a case study (Flyvbjerg, 2004; Stake, 1995, 2005). Additionally, potential learning outcomes from the process of creating a video game are explored through a social constructivism perspective.

Social Constructivism: Engaging and Challenging the Experiential Learner

Delivering knowledge to students is important, while also taking into account the interests and experiences of the students. Gaming statistics and sales show contin- uous growth in popularity with youth via smartphones, consoles, computers, and gaming systems. …

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