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General

We’re excited to host our third year of the Teen Game Workshop, and even more excited to have you helping out! Mentors are essential to making the workshop a memorable and engaging experience for students, and a huge part of what makes it all possible every year. Thanks again for volunteering your time!

We’ve put together some basic orientation info for you to look over before helping out. This information will familiarize you with the tools we will be working with. It also has some useful tips from past mentors about working effectively with students in the class! As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact us at camp@gamesineducation.org
 

Sign Up!

If you haven’t yet signed up to be a mentor, please do so as soon as possible! You can sign up by filling out this form.

 

What does a mentor do?

The Teen Game Workshop is a week long event, running on July 25-29, from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM. We have four packed days of instruction and development leading up to a final showcase on Friday, where students show off their games to friends and family. Throughout this week, mentors are there to assist students in the classroom and help them achieve their goal of making something awesome to take home at the end of the week!

Our workshop hosts students from ages 13-17, with a wide variety of different backgrounds and experiences with computers and programming. Everyone is there because they’re excited about making games, and eager to learn new these tools and techniques to make it possible! Your job as a mentor is to help students solve problems during the development process, overcome computer challenges, and catch up if they fall behind.

 

Mentor Orientation

We have two instructors, RPI professors Mark Destefano and Ben Chang, who will be leading the classes throughout the week. In order to help out in the classroom, we ask that mentors familiarize themselves with the basics of the tools everyone will be using in class.

We are using two programs for our respective classes – Ren’Py for our Adventure/Narrative track, and Construct 2 for our Action/Mobile track. Both are simple, and can be used effectively without extensive coding experience.

To familiarize yourself with the tools we’ll be using in the workshop, we have last year’s orientation video here:

 

(Coming soon!)

 

Our instructors cover what you’ll need to know about RenPy and Construct 2, as well as some basic information about working with students.

 

For more tutorials and information about the software, see the sections below!

 

Ren’Py

What is Ren’Py?

Ren’Py is a visual novel engine, used to tell interactive stories that can run on computers and mobile devices. Students will be using this tool in the workshop’s Adventure/Narrative track to make their very own “choose your own adventure”-type games to take home and play with their friends. The engine is free and very easy to use. It has a light and effective Python-based scripting language that students will be learning and using in class to tell their stories.

Ren’Py comes with a tutorial story called “The Question”. We ask that mentors download the engine and walk through the game in preparation for the class. It can be downloaded directly from the their website.

 

Tutorials

If you want to learn more, here are some helpful tutorials:

Ren’Py Quickstart

Ren’Py video tutorial, courtesy of Tech Valley Game Space:

TVGS also provides their accompanying PowerPoint presentation.

For more information and community resources, visit the Ren’Py website.

 

Construct 2

What is Construct 2?

Construct 2 is the free game engine that we’ll be using for our Action/Mobile track. It lets students build 2D interactive games with programming logic, without having to learn an actual programming language. Games made with Construct 2 are built in HTML5 and can be hosted for free and played as a web app on a student’s phone

More information and specific tutorials about the engine can be found on their website. We ask that mentors helping out with this class watch the Mentor Orientation video tutorial above, and make sure they are familiar with the basics of how to use the software – how to add new objects, edit properties, how layers work, etc.

If you want to learn more, we also have some helpful tutorials below:

 

Tutorials

If you want to learn more, here are some helpful tutorials:

Construct 2 powerpoint tutorial, courtesy of Tech Valley Game Space.

Beginner’s Guide to Construct 2

For more information and community resources, visit the Construct 2 website.

 

Mentor Tips

Here is some helpful advice from past Teen Game Workshop mentors:
 

Generally, “I don’t know” is a fine thing for mentors to say; the teens love that we also don’t have all the answers, and working together to find a solution is a big part of the experience. I usually try to follow “I don’t know” with “Let’s see if we can find out”. Related to that, having a knowledge of where to find examples, documentation, and solutions is important. You don’t have to be competent with the software packages involved to volunteer and be helpful.

 

A few people were constantly asking “what should I do next” at the point I visited (last day, I think?). It’s an interesting balance to provide suggestions and guidance without controlling the experience. asking questions about player experience — “what do you think the player would be most happy/frustrated with? what would they want more/less of?” etc — was helpful here.

 

Make sure to bug everyone about backing up constantly

 

Don’t worry about not being an expert in the software being taught — it’s just as good (if not better) to model to the kids how to find answers to questions they may have. Helping them google the answer both teaches them how to learn things on their own, and it shows them that even us grown-ups don’t know it all!