Workshop Format: Create a Game (Art) Installation
During mid of 2013 until the beginning of 2014, Juliane Springsguth and me had the chance to develop a new game design hacking workshop format for teenagers (Mostly 8th graders around 13-15 years old) in cooperation with "Berufsorientierte Schulprojektwochen (BOP)" organized by the Media Education Institution WeTeK Berlin gGmbH.
Our objective was to generate a tangible and audiovisual output in shape of a Game (Art) installation during the workshop. Furthermore, our intention regarding those young participants was to empower them to express their ideas in a (media) technology driven environment. Officially the objective was that they get a first impression how a job as digital media worker could look like.
In that context we applied Rapid Prototyping Methods from Industrial/Interface Design, Playful Computer Interfaces from Media Edutainment Programs and some Upcycling Materials to our workshop concept. The teenagers were encouraged to bring ordinary objects to the workshop and make them interactive through the Makey Makey input device. For audiovisual feedback we provided a computer with the multimedia programming software Scratch. Both tools are very beginner friendly and does not require any previous knowledge.
The workshop hold around 20 hours (4 hours each day) and dealt with theoretic topics (programming, animation, game design etc.) as well as practical experimenting units. While those hacking sessions, the teenagers were allowed to work freely in groups and their outcome was not predefined. After every practical session, we discussed and reflected the outcoming results. In that case everyone could learn from the others success and failures. For documenting the overall workshop process, we used a simple Kanban board as it is usually applied for agile project management in the start-up industry.
For providing a dynamic changing workshop environment, we left a few times our hacking space and visited the Berlin Fablab as well as Computerspielemuseum Berlin. On both trips the teenagers got a guided tour for deeper insights of the new emerging digital craftsmanships.
After each workshop Juliane and me improved and adapted some of our workshop activities. For instance, the programming introduction was in the beginning pretty boring. We started experimenting with a self-teaching approach. The hour of code programming exercise was a great solution in that case. As a general result of the workshop, we were surprised how easily the teenager utilized the upcycled toys and material for their own game controllers. Most of the participants were able to find their favourite task and they dedicated to that in the end of the workshop. Some had really fun in coding, some others preferred tinkering with the available materials. At the end of the workshop we let them go with their strongest interests and gave them hints toward the intersection of the other's work. So that they could understand that every activity is connected with the others.
After running several workshops, it was a great pleasure to work with the teenagers and it was a welcome change in my daily working routine. Furthermore, the teenagers started asking me questions about my working field, which I have not thought before. In that context it is always a good opportunity to observe my profession from another point of view.