Sunnyvale, Calif. - AMD has launched Activate!, an interactive Web site primarily targeted at children ages 13 through 15 that enables kids to easily design and program video games. Activate! was created by PETLab and funded by a $77,000 AMD Foundation grant in support of AMD Changing the Game. AMD Changing the Game helps strengthen programs that improve children’s critical science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills and encourages kids to become more globally conscious citizens by developing digital video games with social content.
The Activate! Web site is currently being translated into Mandarin and also will be deployed on the intranet of the not-for-profit Dandelion Middle School in Beijing later this summer. A month-long game development workshop held at the school is expected to reach an estimated 475 students.
“In its short two-year history, AMD Changing the Game has supported several leading-edge partners and programs that help expand the use of digital game development as an educational tool. With Activate!, teens far and wide will have access to the tools they need to create their own games,” says Allyson Peerman, president, AMD Foundation. “Our goal is to help today’s youth grow into technically adept, critical thinkers and responsible citizens in order to thrive in our digital world.”
PETLab is a joint project of Games for Change and Parsons The New School for Design. It is a game design research lab that connects scholars and designers in the field of digital media, practitioners working in the spheres of education and social issues, and people of all ages at play.
“As we see a stronger focus placed on the importance of gaming and education, it is important that youth develop a literacy about games themselves and the potential to address social and global issues through game design,” says Colleen Macklin, associate professor, the director of PETLab, and an associate professor at Parsons The New School for Design. “The Activate! Web site is about active and fun learning through design and we believe students will feel a great sense of achievement when they complete the challenges and activities.”
Activate! contains tutorials for making games, example games for users to play, and will feature a gallery of user-generated games. Activate! leverages the publicly available Game Maker software program to help create the games. Depending on local laws, users will also be able to upload their completed games to the Activate! site.
The Activate! online activities are designed and presented in the form of “challenges” rather than traditional lessons. Each challenge corresponds with a current socially-conscious theme and some challenges may link to special global and social events. The Activate! challenge modules will measurably enhance the following competencies among youth participants:
• Familiarity with game design elements, such as graphics, sound, narrative, rules, programming and play
• Familiarity using specialized design and programming software such as Game Maker
• Ability to engage in design-based processes, including problem-solving, sketching, prototyping, testing and modifying
• Understanding of cause-and-effect relationships within different gaming environments
• Experience applying programming and procedural logic to game structures and behavior, and applying mathematics to character movement
• Teamwork and collaboration skills within a creative atmosphere
• Awareness about the pressing social issues embedded in various game-based activities