Ask any groups of children what they like to do in their spare time, and no doubt gaming will come into conversation somewhere along the line. Gaming is something that children do every day and more importantly, something children love to do every day. This noted, I decided to try and use this with lessons.
Within the new computing curriculum, the ‘programming’ element lends itself brilliantly to game creation. To create a game holds so much value, from planning, drafting, designing, making, editing graphics and evaluating. This is exactly the process we followed with an app called ‘Floors’, an app made by Pixel Press.
Floors is a brilliant app that allows pupils to create their own video game from scratch. There are two elements to the game, to draw your design either by hand or to design it online.
We took this game design as a unit of lessons within our computing sessions. The first thing we did was to allow the pupils to explore some of the games already created. This app has a great element of sharing games that have been produced. This gives that ‘wider audience’ element for the pupils, knowing that their games could be shared globally once created.
After this, we looked at the key, in detail, for how to create the game. I found this to be fundamental in ensuring functioning games at the end of the unit. Although it seemed harsh to the children, having a lesson exploring the design ‘key’ and not actually creating, it allowed them to fully understand the potential of what they were creating. Having just ‘played’ with design, I am sure we wouldn’t have had so many interesting teleports, sinking blocks, keys to new worlds, etc.
After the key, came the creation. With this app you can do this in two ways, design on paper to scan or design online. I chose both. The pupils created a draft world on paper, which was modified after feedback given. Then they designed their programme online also. The simple reason behind this; the scanning tool wasn’t very effective with our iPads. However, whilst copying their hand-drawn world, I found the pupils continually flicked between the design, and what it actually conveyed to, reviewing and editing their work independently as they went along. Fab!
After the games were created, we looked at how the graphics could be changed, changing characters, coins, obstacles, etc. The children thought about the ‘theme’ of their game and edited these accordingly.
Lastly, and most importantly, the children were given time to play and evaluate each other’s games. I structured this session before the children’s games were published online, and before other pupils from the school played them, in the style of market research. We rotated, each playing the game for two minutes (although they felt this was too short when they were hooked on the games) and then each child left both positive and negative feedback. The pupils were then given time to make final amendments on the game, taking into consideration the feedback of their peers.
All in all, Floors was a brilliant app for computer programming. From understanding the working of the app, planning, editing, designing graphics, reviewing and publishing. Brilliant.