Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Game Dev House: A New Approach to Workshops

In this article, game developer Erin Margolis discusses why she feels game design workshops are still useful experiences in an age full of online courses and describes her recent experience running a game jam at Game Dev House.

In this information-filled age, there is no lack of access to articles, tutorials, and courses. However, there is a lack of human empathy and people who can listen and understand one another. Workshops are a playing ground where gamers and players can connect and practice use of what skill sets they have, but more importantly gain social interaction and share personal experiences.

Anyone can find all of the information that they need on their own online, but there is a synergy in forming communities. Community, in the truest sense of the word, is about growing and sharing.

Articles that inspire, new software that helps to guide a person’s vision, group discussions that engage where others can be heard: This is all community. It’s a place of substance and can be a powerful place for people to create alongside one another and advance to the next step.

Game Dev House ran a game jam on June 29th this past year where we had over 20 attendees. It was a free event that took place at Monmouth Mall in Eatontown, NJ and was advertised for a month. There were 2 guest speakers, lectures, game demos, and prizes. Our main event turned out great in getting people who did not know each other to work in small teams and make a project idea which they presented in front of the entire group.

After hanging out with this group for most of the day and getting to know them, I was able to assign them a role on the team and get them to collaborate and build. We had storyboard conceptions, character creators, presenters, and illustrators. It varied a bit per team.

It was really cool to see the teams working together and having a great time! This was a foundational starting point for the attendees to experience game development with other people.

After the workshop was over, the attendees expressed a wide range of interests in different aspects of the game development process. Since their interests were as varied as their experience and age, I surmised that it would be most beneficial to get an online group going where separate sects could be formed addressing each of their goals and needs. It seemed to be that this group of people liked hanging out and socializing together, but it would be easier to teach them through online coaching and or small classes.

Ultimately, it is enjoyable instructing both online and onsite classes and connecting with many different students. Game Dev House facilitates the bringing together of developers and students who are looking for more than a conventional approach to learning. The combination of international ideas, home-grown games, and student projects has proven to do more than we expected! The culture has been free to define who they want to be and been given a platform of recognition. This builds up the individual to pursue whatever goals and dreams that they have outside of conventional game development, and we support that!

Erin Margolis is a NJ resident and has been working as a game developer since 2005.  She is passionate about game development and its impact on the betterment of society.  Game Dev House was launched on 10/31/12; ironically, the day after Superstorm Sandy.


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