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Even though all of us here at iD Tech Camps have witnessed the creative impact technology has on kids and teens, it’s always nice to see a recent study for validation.
Michigan State University found that nearly 500 12-year-olds who played video games exhibited increased creativity when it came to tasks such as drawing pictures and writing stories.
Photo Courtesy of www.News10.net
The crux of the study (which was part of MSU’s Children and Technology Project, funded by the National Science Foundation) involved assessing how often students used technology in its different forms, and then measured their creativity with the Torrance Test of Creativity.
Linda Jackson, head researcher and professor of psychology, notes that with such knowledge, game developers should push to discover those specific aspects of video games that are most responsible for resulting creativity. “Once they do that, video games can be designed to optimize the development of creativity while retaining their entertainment values such that a new generation of video games will blur the distinction between education and entertainment,” Jackson states in an MSU press release.
While the study proves that playing games boosts creative juices, just think of the impact received when you create your own video game. From game design, to game development, modding, and modeling, learning about the different aspects of video games and then actually putting that knowledge into action is a valuable practice.
November 3rd, 2011 | Tags: create your own video game, Michigan State University, Torrance Test, video game camp, video game design, video game development, video games and creativity
Posted in: iD Tech Bloggers
There was a time when I didn’t have the absurd game catalog that I sport today. I’m not bragging – I would quickly give up my library for more time to spend with some quality titles. The problem with getting older is that games become more affordable and free time becomes less available. I hate to admit that I’ve never finished “Mass Effect” because every time I sit down to play, I get sidetracked with something seemingly more important, like work, family or sleep. The majority of my gaming is portable, predominantly iPhone and iPad, simply because of convenience. I do steal some late night sessions with my Xbox or PS3, but I have to limit those experiences to quick interactions such as “Super Meat Boy,” “Zen Pinball” or the occasional “Battlefield 1943.”My childhood was littered, though, with constant gaming for lack of other things that interested me or my friends. Sure, we’d go out and play, but time moved slower and there was always a couple of hours available to pop a game in the Atari, Coleco, NES or Genesis (or PC!), regardless of how awful the gameplay turned out to be. My menu of options was quite limited back then, which meant that sometimes I would become quite obsessed with games that were simply awful. Here are ten of my favorite horrible games – please include yours in the comments!
Pitfall II: Lost Caverns(Atari)
Yes, I realize that Pitfall II was a groundbreaking game for the Atari and platform games in general. This also happened to be the very first game that I beat, at the tender age of 5, in fact! The game, though, required ridiculous patience. Identifying the single ledge that had a special jump that triggered a balloon was enough to make anyone mad with rage. Follow that with the final climb through bats and vultures and bats and vultures (again and again and again), any mistake in timing resulting in falling all the way to the bottom was infuriating. The only true positive from beating Pitfall II as a child is that Super Meat Boy does not really phase me… at all.
Swordquest: Fireworld (Atari)
Swordquest was some sort of contest game – there were clues that inside the game needed to solve a real world puzzle. I never knew that. I just played this game (and the other Swordquest) again and again without any purpose. There was no save, so I just thought that I was running from room to room collecting items that would eventually bring about a grand end-state. Instead, hours of my life were spent running around with the notion that a purpose would present itself – and it never did.
Smurfs: Rescue in Gargamel’s Castle (Coleco)
The music from the Smurfs game still haunts my nightmares. Yes, I did rescue a couple of Smurfs from Gargamel, but most of the time I was cursing out the screen because of the mind numbingly impossible jumps (which was difficult, because at the time I didn’t know any curses)! The game was so frustrating that I eventually decided that if the Smurfs cannot in a world of fences or bushes, they do not deserve to be saved.
Fly a plane through some hazards and unlock a door – that’s fairly easy, right? Now fly through the inside of some wacky building with pipes and water hazards – still not bad. Now try to make it to the end without getting hit by a giant bouncing ball… Yeah. Looping is an incredibly bizarre joystick and shooting game that defies reality and rides the fine line of too difficult and satisfyingly successful. The music is great, but the premise is so overwhelming weird that it falls under the “what the heck did I just spend 3 hours playing?” category. I can imagine a 2012 sequel could put sense the insanity, but for now, I’m still scratching my head.
The Adventures of Bayou Billy(NES)
I do not even want to write about Bayou Billy. I was terrible at this game! I know that’s an unfair way to judge a game, but the only was I got past the first level or two was with Game Genie – and that went for all of my friends as well. I think I made it to first on-rails shooting level only a couple of times without completely dying. Yet I kept trying, day after day, because I really had no other option.
Remote Control (NES)
In the late 80’s, MTV had a game show that was actually based on music. I loved the show because it didn’t involve music videos, which I was too young to enjoy, and contained PG-13 level humor, which I was too young to understand. Somehow I was given the NES version of the show, which I played over and over again until I memorized all of the questions – otherwise, how would I know ANYTHING about Jon Bon Jovi? The game wasn’t broken, except that a 9 year old could easily win if he or she happened to play for more than 10 – 20 hours a week. I showed them!
Caveman Games (NES)
This game is impossible. There’s no other way to describe the mildly entertaining Olympic-like exploits of these cartoony cavemen. Young gamers may know some Wii games that are merely based on shaking the controller endlessly – this was an early variation that required the player to repeatedly hit the “a” or “b” button at a machine-like pace. We bought a “turbo” (read *cheat*) controller specifically for this game and it made it much more interesting. My hands still hurt from the pre-turbo days.
The Three Stooges (NES)
I actually still love this game – it’s a series of mini-games where the Three Stooges try to accumulate the most amount of money to save the orphanage (?) or something noble like that. Perhaps they were kicked out of their house or grandma was dying – I do not recall and I’m much too busy to Google right now. The games were interesting and scattered throughout was real-life digital voice sound effects, which was novel outside of “Blade of Steel.” I included this because the whole game was fairly mindless and it distracted me from replaying the first 3 minutes of “The Adventures of Bayou Billy.”
Chester Cheetah: Too Cool to Fool (Genesis)
This game looked great. At the time, Chester Cheetah was one of the sharpest looking cartoon-like games out there. The game even had a cool platform twist, which was that Chester would be invincible whenever he was dancing. Unfortunately, the designers saw fit to use that skill against Chester as often as possible. One level includes some fast-action boat platforming on the high seas – every move must be perfect or splash! Toward the end, almost unavoidable, is a nice dancing power-up that changes the music and sends Chester right into the water. Oh – did I mention this game is based on a character from a bag of cheese-covered junk food? Yeah. Gross.
Aero the Acro-Bat (Genesis)
I know it is unfair to (again) judge a game simply on how difficult each level is, but this is my blog entry and I’ll do what I want. Aero was so horribly hard that I could not fathom how someone could find any enjoyment from loading up the cartridge. I’m pretty sure I never got past the flaming ring in the first level. The *first* level. Yeah. I have no idea what the rest of the game looks like or if the “Sabre Dance” continues over and over again, nor will I ever find out. I prefer to live with the understanding that the game was an impossible hoax without any subsequent story or challenges…
October 11th, 2011 | Tags: addictive video games, game culture, game design, gamers, games, Inspiration, nostalgia, video Game creation, video game design, video games, worst games
Posted in: iD Tech Bloggers, iD Tech Camps, Summer Camps
At iD Tech Camp, kids design their own computer programs
By Shantal Parris Riley
Young minds probed deep into the world of computers Thursday at the iD Tech Camp at Vassar College. Scores of kids, ages 7-17, sat in front of computer screens, designing from scratch games, iPod and iPhone applications, and other programs. They were participants at the iD Tech Camp’s computer science summer camp, which is in its 10th year at the college. “I’m making an application that converts English into binary code,” said camper Benjamin Handel of Brooklyn. The 12-year-old held an iPad showing a blank window with a virtual keyboard underneath it. “Say you type this,” he said, keying in “My name is Ben.” He tapped a large virtual button labeled “convert to binary,” and a series of about 50 ones and zeros suddenly appeared in the window.
Click here to read full article about our summer camps in New York
July 8th, 2011 | Tags: computer camps, gaming camps, kids summer camps, video game design
Posted in: iD In The News, New York Institute of Technology, New York University, Pace University, Vassar College
Kids create video games
By Travis Roemhild
There are kids who like to do more than just play their video games. Some like to create their own.
For those enrolled at the iD Tech Camp at Arizona State University, learning how to design games may be the first step toward a career in the field.
Each camp lasts one week and students are broken up into groups depending on their knowledge level and what type of game, or modification to a current game, they want to work on. Possibilities range from iPad and iPhone game design to side-scrolling adventure games, to an introduction in C++ or Java, popular programming languages.
For the younger kids, they start out with instruction on “if/then” software.
“We teach them if your character on screen does this, then what do you want them to do?” director Clay Patterson said. “The if/then concepts really build their knowledge of creating games.”
There are four skill levels which the students can fall under: Basic, intermediate, novice and advanced. Students like Ahwatukee Foothills resident Ethan Billar, 8, are working at the basic level but still seeing the results on screen. They use a program called Multimedia Fushion Developer, which Patterson said is great for their learning curve.
“It’s cool because I got to put Mario into the game and make him fight the bad guys,” Billar said.
Popular games like Unreal Tournament are the subject of modification for the older students. Those enrolled in that area learn how to use modification software to develop their own maps and change different areas of the game.
June 24th, 2011 | Tags: Arizona summer camps, make your own video game, video game design
Posted in: Arizona State University, iD In The News, Uncategorized
This summer, students will race to summer camp so they can race at summer camp through a unique partnership with Ubisoft and its TrackMania United video game software. iD Tech Camps, the world’s number one technology summer program, is offering a new 3D Video Game Design course that revolves around racing games. The course is designed to give students valuable skills like 3D design and game modification in one of the gaming industry’s most popular genres.
Students ages 10-15 will work in small classes to design the perfect track, create the sleekest car and challenge their classmates with new racing scenarios. Students can select options from a deep single-player mode to endless multiplayer challenges, and the software allows players to race a track as many times as they want. TrackMania United is also popular because players can choose to respawn at checkpoints or restart the race at any time. This flexibility makes the game optimal for students to continuously experiment and to tweak their games using their new design skills. Once students have created their perfect track, they can push it online where their friends or even the millions of TrackMania players around the world can race on it.
As with all iD Tech Camps courses, students exercise their imaginations along with their technical skills in the creation of a final project. In the 3D Game Design course, students create their personal vision of the game, then take home their modified version, along with original TrackMania United software. Since the game allows players to create their own tracks using a “block” process, students can use what they’ve learned at camp to continue building and experimenting long after their session ends.
For Pete Ingram-Cauchi, the CEO of iD Tech Camps, adding the 3D racing game genre was a natural next step in iD’s evolving game design course offerings. “The new TrackMania United course complements our other video game courses and expands the options for students interested in game design. We’ve had great success with other popular genres like first person shooters (FPS) using Unreal Tournament® 3, and we’re hoping that this new genre will get more students interested in game design.”
iD Tech Camps offers a unique “make your own game” experience for students ages 7-17 through seven different video game design courses, including arcade, platform and role-playing games (RPG), giving them the opportunity to develop design skills and test their interest in a gaming career. For teens who want a more intensive, pre-college experience, there is the two-week iD Gaming Academy.
The new 3D Game Design – Racing Games course featuring TrackMania United, along with the other game design courses, is offered at iD Tech Camps’ 60 prestigious university locations with weeklong, day and overnight options.
ABOUT TRACKMANIA UNITED®
TrackMania United® is a series of arcade racing games. Instead of following the usual trend of choosing a set car and track for playing in the game, the TrackMania United games allow players to create their own tracks using a “Block” process. TrackMania offers both a deep single-player mode as well as endless multi-player challenges across a world-wide community of racers who are ranked by the game’s ladder system. In contrast with most other racing games, the TrackMania series lets players race a track and respawn as many times as they want, or restart from the beginning. The goal is to achieve the best times possible on tracks made by players. Player-created tracks can be shared easily online with the millions of TrackMania United users around the world.
March 16th, 2011 | Tags: 2D & 3D video game camps, build your own racing game, gaming camps, video game design
Posted in: iD Tech Camps
A crusade that started with Katie Goldman is being picked up by iD Tech Camps. 7-year-old Katie was teased for carrying a Star Wars water bottle – something that was “only for boys.” Her story quickly went viral, and supporters from every corner of the web chimed in to let her know that she was not alone. In her honor, iD Tech Camps has created a Girls in Technology scholarship to encourage girls to pursue anything that they love – be it Star Wars or technology – and to dispel the myth that certain things are “only for boys.”
iD Tech Camps is a summer youth technology program that offers courses in game design, iPhone® app development, web design, programming, filmmaking, robotics and other subjects. Students learn in small classes (average size 6, maximum 8 students) during weeklong sessions at 60 prestigious universities nationwide. At the end of each week, students put their tech skills to the test by completing a challenging final project.
But the final project is just the beginning – iD students take what they’ve learned back into the real world and keep building on their skills. Katherine, for instance, is an inspirational camper who learned animation with Maya® at one of iD’s Los Angeles summer camps held at UCLA, and went on to win 1st place, place and “Best of Show” at a statewide film festival. With the Girls in Technology scholarship, iD Tech Camps aims to produce more role models like Katherine who show that girls and technology are a winning combination.
For its 2011 summer camp season, iD Tech Camps awarded the Girls in Technology scholarship through Starlight Children’s Foundation™ to Anna Kimmel, 13, of Eagan, MN. She is an impressive student who uses technology to break through boundaries daily. Born with arthrogryposis, Anna started using computers before she was three for adaptive speech. Now she uses a laptop at school every day, interfacing with a smart board to write and participate in all of her classes.
Anna is an example of how stereotypes, gender and otherwise, don’t hold. “Anna’s life thus far has been about fighting assumptions – just because she’s in a wheelchair, doesn’t mean she isn’t extremely smart and capable,” says Anna’s mother. “And technology comes intuitively to her – she’ll get a new computer and just figure it out. She teaches me how to do things on my iPhone. She loves technology and explores it every way she can.”
Pete Ingram-Cauchi, CEO of iD Tech Camps, seconds Anna’s mother. “Part of iD Tech Camps’ mission is to make sure that everyone understands that tech camp is a creative, vibrant environment. Girls don’t feel bored or excluded, they learn cool skills that are very necessary in today’s high-tech world.”
If iD Tech Camps has anything to do with it, the force will be with Katie – the force of a tech-savvy generation of girls.
ABOUT STARLIGHT CHILDREN’S FOUNDATION
When a child or teenager has a serious medical condition, everyone in the family is affected. For more than 25 years, Starlight Children’s Foundation™ has been dedicated to helping seriously ill children and their families cope with their pain, fear and isolation through entertainment, education and family activities. Starlight’s programs have been proven to distract children from their pain, help them better understand and manage their illnesses, and connect families facing similar challenges so that no one feels alone. Through a network of chapters and offices, Starlight provides ongoing support to children, parents and siblings in all U.S. states and Canadian provinces with an array of outpatient, hospital-based and Web offerings. Programs are also delivered internationally through affiliates in Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom. To learn more visit www.starlight.org.
February 28th, 2011 | Tags: girls in STEM, scholarships, STEM education, video game design
Posted in: iD Tech Camps