What is it?
Making Games in Schools (MGiS) is creative cross-curricular approach to designing and making computer games which embraces the new technologies requirements of A Curriculum for Excellence, the Scottish guidance on the school curriculum. It uses the Adventure Author software developed by Dr Judy Robertson and her team at Heriot-Watt University, combined with the commercially available Neverwinter Nights 2 fantasy role play game. Pupils work in a 3D multimodal animated environment to create games complete with dialogue, action and consequence, a process which encompasses a wide range of learning opportunities, including problem solving, logical thinking, storytelling and peer evaluation, as well as deepening understandings about computer science and 21st century texts. Teachers have made strong links to English, geography, design, ICT and many other areas of the curriculum along the way.
Designing a game world using the toolset
Why do it?
The project offers a rich experience for children and teachers alike; children are enthused and motivated to learn, and teachers discover some powerful ways of teaching and learning that often have an impact beyond the MGiS lessons. The project has been described as 'A Curriculum for Excellence in a box.'
Who is involved?
MGiS is aimed at pupils from P7 to S3 (or beyond). Pairs of teachers have worked together to develop a cross-curricular programme of study appropriate to their setting, based on the approaches advocated by the MGiS team at Heriot-Watt University.
How is it done?
Over a period of weeks children develop a visual and spatial story complete with dialogue and action, which is regularly tested both by themselves and their peers. The software is quite complex, and the MGiS team advocates an explorative, semi-structured approach whereby pupils are given the opportunity to explore the software within given parameters and find their own solutions to their own problems, sharing these with their peers and teachers. This is balanced periodically by pacey, challenging direct teaching which introduces new concepts or features of the software, which children then in turn have a chance to explore and interpret in their own way. Teachers, in relinquishing the role of expert, have discovered new facets to their pupils and have found new and powerful ways of taking learning forward. Thus a strong sense of ownership and collaboration emerges, with both staff and pupils enjoy learning together.
When is it happening?
MGiS was originally funded for an 18 month pilot period by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and is now established as a project in numerous schools and educational establishments across Scotland where it continues to grow and develop and become an embedded part of the P7-S3 curriculum. New schools can develop their own projects using the information and resources on this web site, and are very welcome to contact Judy and the MGiS team to see if we can help in any way.
What else would it help to know?
The existing team of MGiS pioneers out in schools are worth their weight in gold in terms of knowledge and experience - visit their MGiS blogs and make contact with them to find out what it has been really like, without the benefit of my rose-tinted spectacles! The training programme we offered helped these guys get off the ground. Unfortunately there is no more funding for this, but we may still be able to offer training sessions if you have funding of your own. Do drop us a line to discuss.