Have you ever looked at the rows of games in the toy aisles and thought, “Who thinks of these things?” Or even, “I could design something more interesting than that.” Perhaps now is the time you can!
GameKit is a website from the Institute of Play for those who’d like to make games, without a daunting requirement for advanced technical skills. Its philosophy is simple:
There’s no one way to become a great game creator. There’s only practice. Practice and practice.
Fortunately, GameKit is full of interesting challenges at all levels of difficulty, ready to spur game creators at all levels. Some of the materials suggest they are intended for grades 6-12, but many could also be used with younger students, especially with some teacher support.
For example, the warm up activity “Find Play in All Things” encourages beginning game designers to look around for materials that can be used to create original games. Gamers are challenged to think about the objects’ functions and using them to reach a goal. Paper cups? A slinky? Erasers? Anything can be fodder for a new game.
“Mod a Board Game” challenges users to redesign a board game with new ways to move, new goals, and new rules. Other challenges invite more experienced creators into designing game spaces and investigating tablet capabilities. Each of the GameKit challenges includes “Dive Deeper” options for more advanced design challenges and a “For Educators” link for those supporting beginning game designers.
GameKit made me want to stop what I was doing and experiment with new games. It also made me think about how I could incorporate game design more systematically into other kinds of curriculum. We’ll explore more of those ideas in coming weeks.
For now, take a look at GameKit and see what ideas come to you. I’d love to hear where your students and families take this beta site. Big adventures are ahead, I suspect!