Setting up for our workshop. We borrowed laptops from our library system and I brought in an old laptop that I had at home to use.

Setting up for our workshop. We borrowed laptops from our library system and I brought in an old laptop that I had at home to use.

The newest addition to our program kit library comes courtesy of yours truly (although a lot of credit is due to the good folks at UW’s Division of Information Technology, who presented on Sploder to my Young Adult Literature class last year). ~ Laura

Video Game Making Workshop

I’ve offered this workshop at two libraries now, both times for kids in 5th grade and up. This is a fun opportunity to talk with teens about their favorite games, different types of video games, and what makes a “good” video game. I enjoy using Sploder.com for these reasons:

  • The kids can access the program at any time as long as they have an internet connection and Flash enabled. On my handout I remind them that they need to check with a grown-up before setting up their own account.
  • The games can be “published” – i.e., available for public play. This is why we use one account during the workshop, so that all of our published games are readily available.
  • There is ample opportunity for additional or longer workshops. This becomes very apparent when the kids play each other’s games – you could do a whole second workshop just on markers/maps/instructions (how do you tell a player who isn’t you how to play and level up through the game?!).
The workshop had 7 signed up, 5 that attended plus a couple of friends that wandered in to watch over shoulders.

The workshop had 7 signed up, 5 that attended plus a couple of friends that wandered in to watch over shoulders.

Workshop schedule:

  • Welcome/introductions
  • Introduction to Sploder.com, sign in with library account.
  • I am most familiar with the Platformer creator, so that’s what I had the kids start with to learn the program basics.
  • Tour through the program mechanics – how to test and save your game/level, how to zoom in/out, change background, etc.
  • Talk briefly about tools, obstacles, and enemies in the left hand menu.
  • Exploration/work time. In my experience they’ll want to try out the other game creators.
  • With 5-10 minutes left, have players publish their games so that they are available for other workshop participants.

Download the example workshop handout

Visit Sploder.com.

Additional tips:

  • Make sure that Flash is enabled and updated to the most recent version on your machines and try to load the game maker on every computer well ahead of your program. 
  • I was limited by the number of participants for the workshop by the machines I had available (I borrowed laptops from our library system). 5 participants with a couple of observers was a good number for our space and equipment.
  • Play with the program a bit before offering the workshop to help diagnose/trouble-shoot issues during the workshop. I’ve found that collaboration and cooperative troubleshooting is a really positive part of this program so even though I know how to use the program, I try to stay as hands-off as possible and let participants help each other out.

Have questions? Have you used Sploder in a classroom, library, or at home? I’d love to hear your ideas, ways to expand the program, and any challenges you’ve encountered!

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