In 2015 SCE partnered with Games for Change and the Institute of Play to support the assessment of the NYC Games for Change Student Challenge. Middle and high school students in 12 NYC public schools were challenged to create original games that addressed social issues in their own neighborhoods. There were 500 students who enrolled in game design courses. Three hundred of those students completed the course and there were 95 students who submitted 61 games. In a ceremony in June 2016, 26 winners were awarded prizes. Check out this great video on the challenge.
The goal of the assessment was to measure 21st century skill growth among the students who designed and developed games for the Challenge. Using a pre/post-test, teachers evaluated the following key skills in their students:
Researchers found that of the students who participated in the challenge grew most in communications (12%), collaboration (16%), creativity (12%), and socio-emotional (10%) skills, but all areas showed an improvement. This led the researchers to conclude that game design does have a positive impact on 21st century skills in the population evaluated. This assessment is a great step in evaluating the link between game design and the development of 21st century skills and we hope to see more research that evaluates this connection.
Important to the success of the program was the focus on professional development and student meet-ups/network building. Prior to the start of the challenge, there were three days of training for the 20 teachers participating in the challenge. Here the teachers learned how to implement a structured game design curriculum and the basics of game design. Teachers and students were supported by professional game designers to who visited the classes at least once a month to provide creative feedback, play test the students’ games, help the students integrate theme content into their games and share insights about the game design industry. Additionally, students joined meet-ups at partner locations like the NYTimes and the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation that helped bridge their in-class work to real world scenarios.
SCE was a proud partner of the G4C Student Challenge and look forward to their continued success as they expand to Pittsburgh and Dallas in the 2016 school year. For more information about the challenge, please visit the website.