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Summer Game Design Programs

by Meg Stivison

According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), this summer more than a hundred camps across the United States will offer more then 690 programs in video game design and similar topics. This means the number of video game design courses at American summer camps has more than doubled since 2012. This is great news for aspiring game developers, and for those of us who’d like to see the industry grow.

Game Design Programs

Game Design for Young Aspiring Designers

In Washington DC, the Smithsonian Summer Institute offers summer camps for game design for children. Other Smithsonian camps include everything from hip-hop to dinosaurs, which completely outdo all my summers making friendship bracelets and playing Pig.

Tired of playing those same, boring video games? Learn to design your own in this high-tech camp. Drawing inspiration from the Smithsonian’s museums, campers use a video-game engine to create characters, game levels, and animation, and learn the ins and outs of game design and development. Campers take home a CD of their work.

iD Tech Camps’ summer program takes places on college campuses across the country. iD Tech Camps offers programs in game design, art for games, app development and many other related classes for students 7 and up.

Whether you are seven, eighteen, or somewhere in between, iD has a program for you. From our signature week-long Tech Camps to our intensive multi-week Teen Academies, we specialize in the study of Film, Gaming, Programming, Robotics, Graphic & Web Design and more.

We offer real-world instruction on the hottest technologies from Adobe, Apple, Autodesk, Google, Microsoft and more. Students receive our gold standard 1-on-1 instruction (maximum 8 students per staff) from cool, energetic staff at 60+ prestigious universities including Stanford, MIT, Brown, Northwestern, Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Emory, and UCLA.

You might have heard of iD Tech recently when a mom launched a KickStarter to send her daughter to a program. Sure, most of the fallout from that KickStarter was less a focus on women in game development, and more an internet outcry  that the family was too well off to “need” KickStarter cash for summer camp, but the point remains that a nine-year-old girl wants to study game design over the summer. Worth thinking about the next time a headline breathlessly announces that more women are playing games.

The Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles, in partnership with Women in Games International (WIGI) have started offering a game design badge for Girl Scouts! Girl Scout badges are more self-guided than a traditional summer camp, and this is a great way to encourage girls in game development and STEM education in general. The badge involves hands-on development, using Gamestar Mechanic, E-line’s dev tool. (Thanks to our friends at GirlGamer for breaking this story!)

Boy Scouts have their own Game Design merit badge, which asks scouts to analyze different games and keep a design notebook while building their own game prototype, and a Video Games merit badge, which asks scouts to learn to play  a new (parent approved) game and learn about the video game rating system.

Enrichment and Professional Development Designers

For adults looking to improve their design skills, the NYU Game Center will be offering four undergrad classes to non-matriculated students  this summer. These are  open to anyone with a high school diploma, and can be taken for college credit or as noncredit professional development. (I’ve been to some of the Game Center’s amazing lectures, and kind of wish I were still in New York to take advantage of these classes.)

This summer, Coursera will be offering a course on Online Games: Literature, New Media and Narrative. The class will be taught by Vanderbilt University’s Jay Clayton, and “will explore what happens to stories, paintings, and films when they are turned into online games”, discussing games like The Lord of the Rings Online, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and Skyrim as well as their narrative and artistic connections to other media. “Online Games: Literature, New Media and Narrative” will begin in July, and like all the other Coursera classes, is free, available online, and open to everyone.

Taking a class or learning anything new this summer? Let us know what you’re learning!

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