It’s early in the morning when my coworker Diana and I met up at her house to discuss our strategy. Why are we meeting early in the morning to discuss a strategy? Well, it’s going to be my first time stepping into a classroom where I won’t be a student! I volunteered to do a presentation about game development, the educational video games that we have at 7 Generation Games and get feedback on our games from students at Samuel Gompers Middle School. However, since I didn’t have any experience in a classroom, I had some prepping to do.
Fortunately, Diana has a degree in education and was willing to assist me. As we prepped, I reassured Diana that everything was going to go well. “You’ll do great,” she said. She even went out of her way to write an outline of our presentation for me with what points to hit while presenting to make sure we used our time wisely for each class period. As we were on our way to Gompers, a five-minute drive, I began to get nervous. I’ve never done a presentation in front of 7th graders before. My heart began to pound and my hands began to sweat, all while still reassuring Diana that everything was going to go well.
As we set foot in the school, we were greeted by a lovely woman who asked us what we were there for. When explained we were there to show kids our games and for me to talk about my job developing video games at 7 Generation Games, she gave us the okay and handed us visitor passes. The presentation was to be done in Mr. Gonzalez’s history class (because our games teach math and draw from history) from 2nd to 7th period.
As we entered the classroom, I didn’t know what to expect. Even though I’ve never done a presentation to a full classroom of students, my mission was to educate them about our games, receive any feedback about our games and most importantly motivate them. On the motivation part, I had a secret weapon. As I began my presentation, I told the students they had a chance to win a Chromebook for writing a one-page essay on how they would they would improve our games and what they learned in my presentation. That certainly helped motivate them! Once I mentioned the Chromebook, students became engaged and began asking me random questions. I quickly saw how a classroom atmosphere could change in matter of seconds.
As my presentation continued, I began asking them questions such as if they knew what’s programming or coding. To my surprise, some students in the class had a pretty good idea of what programming is. I told the students about different types of programming languages, specifically the coding language C#, which is what I use to make video games. I also mentioned that if they download Unity3D, a free game engine, that they could begin to code their own video games. Since half the class were video gamers, I told them that this was a good way to expose themselves to code and start to learn how to code even if they had no prior experience.
To keep students interested in the presentation, I came up with an idea. I told them they would help me finish coding a video game, and after we were done, we would play it together. The reason I did this was because I wanted them to get firsthand experience on the process of making a video game – so they could make code come to life. Once we finished coding the game, I picked a few students to come up and play the game. Everyone seemed to be interested and having fun.
Afterwards, I even had several students come up to me and tell me that they wanted to start making video games on their own. At the end of the day, I noticed that each class period was different, but it was the overall interest in coding that was encouraging and made my first experience (back) in a classroom memorable.