The Game Makers: Summary


Supervised By: Mick Chesterman and John Lean

In this project, we will explore the ways in which playing and making computer games to underpin interesting approaches to learning. This isn’t really a project just about coding though; it’s equally about creating stories, script-writing, making artwork and music. We want to explore how to use young people’s excitement and interest around games to stimulate and other productive activity. We will also explore the ways in which retro video games can be rebooted as ‘serious games’ without losing the spark that made them fun in the first place.

Students involved in the project will be introduced to a range of platforms which can be easily used to construct simple games. You will be invited to develop interesting ways to put these platforms to work – either through the production of an educational game, or by creating activities and workshops which invite learners to construct games. We will seek to pilot a series of workshops and activities. These will target 8-13 year-olds, but we are also interested in engaging whole families around the activities we produce.

In engaging with this project, you will explore the dynamics which make games compelling and compulsive, and the ways in which these might influence education in motivating ways. You will also explore how suiting learners as collaborative creators might enable more inclusive and exciting directions in learning. Further, you will explore the value of Family Learning, a concept which is popular in museums and libraries and the subject of ongoing government-funded research which is addressing questions of how best to foster an intergenerational learning environment.


Farewell, And Thanks For All The Fish

This is a final well done message, and a reminder about submission requirements for assignments.

Full details of your assignments and how to submit are on your Moodle areas. But here are the key links so you have them all in one email.
–          And this is an exemplar.


Project Coordinator’s Reflections

This post is a final reflective piece pulling together your thoughts on the project process and outcomes. It is intended as to support students in thinking about their own learning and evaluating their contributions. I have divided this post into several categories.



Context of this project

As you start to address what is needed in this project you can draw on these reports on computing and schools in a UK context.

Evaluation of our process

The key moment of sucess so far has been the way we came together to adapt our plan on the day of the half term workshop. I’m sure each of you have reflections about the good parts of this intervention. Rukia and I made some notes on a debrief of this session which are here, and George’s blog post is here.

It feels to me that this is an area that really needs to be more developed by you as individuals and which would suit more regular group meetings to deepen our individual reflections through group discussions. Questions that arise and thoughts on the process can then be enriched by our readings around the area. Some questions that have come up are:

  • Using activities around Game Making has a lot of potential to encourage interesting collaboration between young people and parents. How does this kind of learning differ from a traditional instruction based approach to learning a skill?
  • How much should we step in and get involved in steering group work once it is set up and how much should we step back and trust the motivating nature of the activities?
  • How can we best use materials to support our aims?
  • In creating the rules of a game and discussing how the parts interact, young people and parents are learning useful skills about systems thinking and the mechanics of game making. How can this be best supported by our interventions?
  • How can we get parents more involved? What is the best way to do this? When are parents a barrier to the process of young people and when are they are advantage? What other parallel activities would help build a family cuture of learning around making games?

Related readings and research

I’ve collated the following links to add to the exising blog posts to guide our learning:

  • Issues of learner control – how much are we guiding the learners and how much are we letting them take control of what they are doing. This links to foundational educational theory of constructivism and application in Project Based Learning
  • The use of materials, textiles and making elements all contribute to a rich learning environment which supports a constructionist approach and other related learning design principles – thus the work of S Papert and M Resnick are very helpful to us here
  • The theory around Game mechanics and how best to create learning environments to support “21st Century” skills is explored in the work of Katie Salen and Robert Torres, in particular in this report on Quest to Learn programme.
  • The attraction for educators to use the playing and making video games is linked to the on going popularity as a family activity. There is some interesting reading about this in the areas of Intergernerational or Family Learning here, here and here.

Future Work

It feels to me that we have just stratched the surface with our approach to this area. I would welcome more explorations in designs and activites to be planned by EdLab students.

I want to invite you to contribute to  a teaching resource for game making that I am working on here. Depending on your level of involvement in the project so far, you may need to do this project to cover your required hours of project work and to give you the opportunity to apply the ideas behind this project to practice, or you may use this to deepen your understanding to build on your previous work.

In either case here is the challenge.

Create one or more 15-45 minute activity which supports the kind of work we have been doing. This should be based on your own hunches of what feels right and inspired by the readings you have been undertaken.

You should make some activity resources and write a plan that will allow a non-expert to deliver your session. You could imagine a volunteer in a code club, after school setting, or a parent at home as the person you are writing it for.

Share these resources and your plan in a blog post which can be linked to from the teaching resource for game making. This can be as images, word documents, powerpoint presentations or just as part of the blog post itself.

Get this to me as soon as you can and I will give you feedback on it and give you additional links to related theory which you can include in your EdLab work.

Recap on assessment

The following online resources address assessment

–          This one is an overview of the assessment requirements of the unit

–          This one talks about the common assessment that ALL the students will complete

–          And this is an exemplar.

If you are doing a 30 credit version of the unit and need to complete an extra assessment here is the briefing:


Thursday Game Making Club

I really like the way you have been able to integrate the artefacts generated into your reflection. Also I think it would be a great next step to build your game in scratch as a way of getting into the mindset of teachers and students undertaking this kind of activity.

Rukia EdLab

I attended Mick’s Game Making club on a Thursday to observe how game related activities might work for our own project.

There were around 10 students, and the morning began by asking them to have a play at a game called ‘Flicky’. This is a 2-d platform game found on internet arcade. It involves moving a bird called Flicky around the screen to collect chicks and place them in a door, whilst avoiding touching the cat. The kids began by clicking the buttons to see what the controls for the game were, and as it became apparent what they needed to press, they took down high scores and took turns playing.

After playing the game, they were asked what they thought the mechanics of the game were. The students explained how the bird could move side to side, jump, and throw objects. It could also slide across the floor when…

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Workshop – 21/02/2018

I think the thing that really stands out here is the way that you were able to be responsive to the needs of the groups and move them towards developing story lines. This fits well with the theory from Gee and others about the possibilities for games to encourage literacy. A fruitful area to explore would be follow up activities which are more explicitly about writing but which aim to retain the enthusiasm gathered here.

George Unitt - EdLab

We held the first workshop on Wednesday the 21st of February, and I would definitely call it a success!workshop1c

I ended up being the voice of the alien mentioned in the previous post (a performance which may well earn some serious awards), and set the participants off on the task. They split fairly evenly into three groups initially, and the three of us took up a different station each (Hero, Hazards & Power-Ups, and my station of Baddies). One of the first challenges to happen surprised me, as the two boys at my table just wanted to recreate their favourite existing video game baddies, specifically the toys from “Five Nights at Freddy’s”. It seemed to me that they initially found the idea of making a game on paper a little bit silly, and they seemed almost embarrassed to share any ideas. It was quite difficult to guide them away from this…

View original post 388 more words

EdLab Conference #3

EdLab Conference 24th March – 10am to 3pm
Agenda for Conference #3

10.00 Introductory Lecture: Assessment Orientations (Mark Peace and Mick Chesterman) Lecture Theatre 3

In this introductory session, we will revisit the assessment principles and requirement for the unit, and give some guidance on the kinds of forms that assessments can take.

11.00 Assignment Workshops

You will then move into your project teams, to begin to interrogate the substance, focus and form your assessment submissions will take. We want this session to give you space to actually get stuff done – so please bring along a device, and anticipate making a dent in working on your submission. Groups will report to the following rooms:

Elizabeth Gaskell’s House – BR 2.15 with John Lean
Early Years Explorers – BR 2.10 with Sean Mitchell
Environmental Play – BR 2.19 with Rachel Summerscales
The Language of Clay – BR 2.16 with Elle Simms
The Oubliette – BR 2.17 with Mark Peace
Mobilise Grimm and Co – BR 2.17 with Lauren Ash
The Game Makers – BR 2.18 with Mick Chesterman

In addition, we put on an additional workshop in BR 2.18 for students who have not engaged well enough in the process so far to feel confident in producing their assignments. It is important that you have identified yourselves to Mick Chesterman (m .chesterman @ ahead of the day.

13.00 Project Team Meetings / Working Lunch

The final hour of the day will be given over to project teams to continue any final development work on their planned outreach activity. Bring a packed lunch so that you can continue to work through this hour!

14.00 Ad Hoc Tutorials / Focused Session for the Students ‘Catching Up’ – 2.18/2.17

The remaining hour will be given over to allow further one-to-one support for students who need it, and for students ‘catching up’ with Mick to continue their development work.

If you do not need extra support, at this point, you are free to work independently on your assignment either in the spaces we have booked, or elsewhere.

15.00 END




Safe Guarding and Ethics of Project Work

It is a legal requirement that anybody working with children, young people or vulnerable adults is appropriately briefed on safeguarding. As such it is important that all EdLab students engage with this post carefully.

By its very nature your work in EdLab will put you in contact with external partners and individuals outside the university – and often, these will be children and young people. Whilst you should never be put in a position by which you are responsible for a group of children, it is important that you appropriate briefed and considerate of the responsibilities this brings to you for child protection, and more broadly for ethical and professional conduct.


The term ‘safeguarding’ is used to describe the processes and measures which are put in place in order to protect children, young people and vulnerable adults. This protection includes, of course, extreme instances of abuse and maltreatment – and the current legal framework was put in place in response to highly publicised failures of public bodies to respond to warning signs that children were in danger. Safeguarding does mean something a bit broader, though. The UK Government defines the term as;

‘The process of protecting children from abuse or neglect, preventing impairment of their health and development, and ensuring they are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care that enables children to have optimum life chances and enter adulthood successfully.’

(DERA, 2014)

This extends the reach of safeguarding beyond child protection to incorporate the additional aims of preventing adverse impacts on health and development, and the promotion of circumstances is which children can thrive through to adult life.

Responsibility to assure safeguarding lies with both organisations (in our case, with the university through EdLab) and individuals (your project coordinator and, importantly, you). There are some basic implications of safeguarding policy for you. These are very simple, and should not be complicated;

  • It is important that all EdLab students have completed a full DBS check. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have one, and our responsiblity to pay for it and to limit access to outreach activity without one. In rare situations in which it isn’t possible to gain a DBS (for some international students) alternative arrangements will be made for the student
  • At no point should an EdLab student be left in sole responsibility – the lead for the space you are working in should be the project coordinator, a class teacher or equivalent or the parents of children (who should remain with them at all times
  • If you are concerned, tell your project coordinator. One of the golden rules of safeguarding is that communication is important, and you should flag up any concern (even if you think it might be silly) about young people you are working with immediately with your project coordinator (let them decide whether further action should be taken). It is important to remember that there is no right to confedentiality in law … if a young person starts to disclose something to you, tell them that you will have to tell somebody, and then do tell somebody else, even if they don’t disclose anything.

At this point, we would like you to follow this link and confirm that you have read and understand your responsibilities regarding safeguarding.

Risk Assessment

Whilst the guidance above ensures that you are compliant with fundamental safeguarding commitments, there are additional responsibilities which you should be aware of. Most notably, you are responsible for ensuring that any participants are kept safe within the activities that you run for them. Risk assessment can sometimes get caught up in slightly silly rhetoric, but the fundamentals are pretty simple. The usual process goes something like this…

  • Identify all of the hazards associated with your work. This is anything which might feasibly pose perils to physical or psychological health.
  • Consider which of these hazards constitute risks. Hazards only become risks if they are likely to occur, and if they would be unsafe if they did. This is the process by which you ensure your risk assessment is both effective and sensible, by identifying the things that are most likely to need planning for
  • Finally, you should establish precautions which will be taken in order to prevent risks turning into genuine dangers. What will you do in order to minimise the danger posed by hazards?

Usually, risk assessments are recorded in forms that look something like this – and shared with everyone involved in running the activity.

Professional Conduct

Work on educational outreach projects also has broader implications in terms of your personal conduct. It hopefully goes without saying, but we expect you to behave in professional ways – it is very easy to accidentally damage external relationships if not, and this makes arranging future projects very difficult. Everybody involved, including the outside guests who attend your project work, understands that you may well be inexperienced and novice at ‘doing education’ – and nobody expects that things will be perfect. Equally, though, there is basic level of professional conduct which is expected of our students in how you conduct yourselves within your teams, and in your interactions with those outside the university. Critical to this is effective communication and reliability; other people are often relying on the work that you do, whether its your project team or guests who are attending your activities – and it is therefore critical that you meet your commitments and deadlines. It is also important that you keep communicating with your project team throughout the process … even if things are going entirely to plan.

Quality Assuring your Work

The final dimension of this blog post relates to the importance of taking every reasonable precaution to ensure that your activities and events run smoothly and effectively. As noted above, we don’t expect everything to always run as you expect (indeed, education rarely works like this!) – however there is an extent to which, with some careful though, you can plan for the unexpected. In lots of ways, this process mirrors that of safeguarding, in that it follows these steps (but focused on things that might disrupt the smooth-running of your work, rather than responding to danger)…

  • Work out everything that could go wrong when your run your activity.
  • Audit each hazard in terms of how likely it is to go wrong, and how damaging it would be if it did.

You can then prioritise responses according to this framework:


… In which you would have very definite fall-back plans to respond to anything red (high likelihood and high impact), and be aware of the possibility of anything yellow. The stuff in green, can be fairly safely deprioritised to give more space to focus on the more risky stuff.

The Project Plan

During the Saturday conference, you have started to pull together a plan for the development and implementation of your project – including key milestones and dates for outreach activity.

  • A link to a project summary document listing what you’ve done so far, the decisions taken and the support provided
  • A timetable of future physical meetings and agreed dates for outreach activity.
  • A list of any tasks allocated to students and suggestions for how they are carried out
  • Other links to working processes

I will be able to contact the Faculty marketing officer to put together some communications publicising our half term offer, and set up an Eventbrite for people to book in for activities. So that I can feed in all of the information we need, please can you let me know …

  • A title for your activity
  • A blurb/description
  • Any constraints on attendance (ages, number of people per session).

EdLab Conference #2

Welcome back to university, and the next phase of your EdLab engagement. In the first conference in December, project teams met to begin to generate possible ideas and directions – and you should have sustained this work, with support through your project coordinators blog – since this point. Our next conference will take place this Saturday (13th) between 10 and 3. Through this day, you will start to form some more concrete plans for the development and execution of your projects, set some milestones and establish responsibilities for the delivery of them.

The agenda for the day will take the following structure:

9.45 – Arrival

10.00 – Keynote: The Seven Deadly Sins of Education – Mark Peace (Lecture Theatre 3)

10.45 – Project Workshops

  • The Oubliette – 2.18
  • Elizabeth Gaskell’s House – 2.17
  • Mobilise Grimm and Co –  2.16
  • Environmental Play –  2.15
  • Early Years Explorers – 2.19
  • The Language of Clay – 2.31
  • The Game Makers – 2.07

12.00 – Working lunch: During this hour, you should work independently in support of tasks developing your project. In addition, the following workshops are available.

  • 12.00 to 12.30: Support with blogging – 3.68 
  • 12.30 to 13.00: Applying for Teacher Training (third year students only) – 2.18

13.00 – Project Workshops (various rooms)

  • The Oubliette – 2.18
  • Elizabeth Gaskell’s House- 2.17
  • Mobilise Grimm and Co – 2.16
  • Environmental Play –  2.15
  • Early Years Explorers – 2.19
  • The Language of Clay – 2.31
  • The Game Makers – 2.07

14.30 – Plenary: Briefing on your assessed work (Juliette Wilson Thomas) – LT3

Important: Please make sure that you have undertaken any preparatory tasks for your project ahead of this day.