This summer, I had the honor of being a camp counselor at Girls Make Games Boston. Over the span of 3 weeks, I taught girls ages 8-15 programming in Unity and helped a team of 5 girls develop a game. It was an awesome experience, and I hope to be a counselor again in the future.
Everyday at Camp
Girls Make Games helps girls learn about game development and grow their passion for games by playing games with new friends. Every day, we'd start the morning off by "doing research" and playing a bunch of games together. From Unraveled to Super Smash Bros Ultimate, the competition was strong and everyone was always laughing. The girls' particularly favorite game was Jack Box: Murder Trivia Party.
After playing games together, we would teach them about different parts of game development like what programming is and the basics, level design basics, and how audio design can change the feel of a game. We were also able to get a bunch of industry professionals as guest speakers to answer all of the girls' questions and to further teach them about different parts of games.
When we finished the lessons, we would break into the teams and the girls would work on their own games. I helped them throughout the development process--from brainstorming to pitching the game--sometimes needing to teach them about scope, but mostly focusing their excitement and creating a finished game.
Teaching the Girls
It was fun but hard teaching the girls. I didn't realize how much I learned about game development throughout my college experience. I learned a lot in my classes, especially about the development process and how to be a good teammate. Going to a game school, I hear people talking all the time about all types of games and all different aspects and approaches to development, learning all of the terminology along the way. Teaching the girls helped me realized how far I've come from admiring games to actually making them.
I loved seeing all of the girls' passion and enthusiasm throughout camp. They were constantly coming up with tons of crazy game ideas, wanting to include everything into their game. It was really hard teaching them about scope and cuts without ruining their enthusiasm. Luckily as the small things began to come together, like putting their art in and moving around the level, their passion overtook any disappointment about scope and they jumped back into working on the game.
The girls were very excited by my introductory fact that I own an axolotl and decided to make a game about one called Axolotl Adventure. The game is about an axolotl that is captured, put into a fish tank as a pet, and tries to escape and find his way back home. The girls designed the whole game, made most of the art themselves, programmed the game, and pitched their game to their parents, showing off all their hard work. While my team didn't make it to the big Girls Make Games Demo day, I'm really proud of everything they learned and for making their first game.
Overall, it was a very fun and rewarding experience working with the girls. I didn't know about game development until I was a junior in high school and was one of the few girls in my year when at was at the Champlain College Game Studio. Being able to help the girls learn and get excited about games was my favorite part of camp and I would love to be able to work at Girls Make Games again!