By MACKENZIE STEELE
On the 12th of September, 2016, I took my first step into the world of game-coding workshops. Sure, I’d dabbled a bit before, on my own, with various websites of varying quality.
This was different. I would be surrounded by nerds far superior to me at the Girls in Games (GiG) Senior Workshop. And I was not disappointed! I learned a lot, had fun, made some friends, and the awesome students, alumni, and lecturers at the Media Design School kindly let me interview them.
Here’s everything I got from my experience, in a nutshell:
#1. Games aren’t just for mindless leisure.
The interactive nature of games make them a new and immersive way of telling stories. Instead of reading or watching characters, games let you be them like never before. Through games, you can meet new people, learn about new things and perspectives, and share experiences and ideas.
#2. Anyone can make games.
Coders come from all sorts of backgrounds and walks of life. Gender, race, sexuality, age – nothing matters when it comes to making games. You don’t need a fancy degree in computer science, you just need a passion for games! Diversity just makes the games better.
#3. Game-making isn’t just about coding.
Coding is important, but so are things like art, ideas, and storyline. There are so many roles in game-making, like User Interface (UI), 2D or 3D art, concept art, writing and so much more. You’re bound to find one or two you’re really passionate about.
#4. Game-making can lead you to cool places.
Sure, you can become a (possibly award-winning) game developer, which is really awesome. But you also become part of a community, both in New Zealand and across the world. You can meet new people, travel new places, help create cool games and projects, and that’s just a sample. You can use your skills from game creation in other places.
For example, coding will soon be very important for many jobs, and does make life easier sometimes. It also opens up new opportunities. One student I talked to was a project manager for the government, and another was able to visit Google HQ!
#5. If you want to code, just start.
It’s really that simple. You can go to coding workshops like Girls in Games, learn online, check out tutorial videos, or start with a game engine. You’ll be surprised what you can make.
Here are some starting points for you.
– The Junior GiG Workshop for Years 9 & 10 is on the 29th of November, and sign-ups are still open! If you or someone you know would like to go to next year’s Senior Workshops for Years 11-13, keep your eyes on the Media Design School blog!
– In Auckland, check out the Game Developers Monthly Meetup, for everyone interested in making, contributing towards, and playing games.
– In the Waikato, Skilltree has a whole bunch of classes for budding developers and designers of all ages.
– Check Google and the website of your local tertiary provider for classes and workshops in your area. If you’re at school, try your Careers Advisor, they might know a few things to help.
– If there’s nothing in your area, try the Hour of Code website for cool online resources.
– Khan Academy has a good set of coding lessons that take you through the basics and beyond.
– GameMaker is one of many game engines that you can use to make your own game.
– Keep dabbling around with games. Minecraft and modding for Sims 2 & 3 are both examples of game development! You can learn a lot on the go.
Many thanks to everyone at the Media Design School and my interviewees! Check them and their projects out! Victoria Smith (Website, Twitter, Project – Netherpark). Isabelle Dela Torre (Twitter). Niamh Fitzgerald (Twitter). Lucy Morris (Website, Twitter).
And special mention to Analiese Jackson, who made sure everything ran smoothly and that I actually had something non-allergenic to eat for lunch!
Happy game-making everyone!
Registrations for Girls in Games’ Junior Dev Day are still open. This is an event for girls in Years 9 and 10 to try out coding and game making for themselves. Click here for all the details!
Livin’ the Dream is brought to you by Careers Expo NZ.
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