We’re excited to host our forth 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
We have one instructor, RPI professor Ben Chang, who will be leading the classes throughout the week in addition to professional game developers Tess Wainwright and James Marcil are running a game jam with our returning students.
We are using Ren’Py this year, which is a simple adventure/narrative game engine that allows players to create their own game in python. If you’re interested in learning more about the tool.
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 can 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”. Mentors can download the engine and walk through the game in preparation for the class. It can be downloaded directly from the their website.
If you want to learn more, here are some helpful tutorials:
TVGS also provides their accompanying PowerPoint presentation.
For more information and community resources, visit the Ren’Py website.
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!