Summer School Game Design and Development: “healthy play, better coping”

Twenty-four participants from the United States of America, Russia, Poland, Italy, The Netherlands, China, and Iran bundled their strengths to generate new creative solutions for children to cope with chronic diseases while becoming more familiar with applied game design and development during the process. An intensive programme spanning one week embodied a set of best practices and knowledge in applied game design and introduced participants to introductions in game programming, art production and audio design.

After a keynote by Kors van der Ent on how games can help children cope with chronic diseases the participants proceeded to form teams of five, involving different backgrounds, disciplines, and often different cultures. The goal was to do additional research, identify the target audience(s) and come up with ideas that could lead to game concepts. This first day of the event was concluded by an inspirational visit to Awesome Space, a space full of retro gaming technology to play and experiment with. The next day started with a lecture by Valentijn Muijrers that introduced Unity3D and an outline of introductory programming practices for participants to experiment with during the week, and was followed up by game art fundamentals by Dimme van der Hout. Between workshops the groups would continue to work on their concepts, aiming for a working digital prototype at the end of the week.

Wednesday introduced participants to the C# scripting language by Wouter van Toll and demonstrated uses of audio and music, and implementations, in games by Than van Nispen. In the morning of Thursday the 16th there was a visit to the Dutch Game Garden where Dr. Menno van Pelt-Deen gave a gamified workshop about entrepreneurship and idea ownership in game design and development. Friday marked the end of an intensive week for everyone; every team had a working digital prototype and delivered a 5 minute presentation that supported their design decisions with regard to the intended goal, the target audience and content.

The Summer School Game Design and Development is a collaborative effort between Utrecht University Department of Information and Computing Sciences and HKU University of the Arts Utrecht School of Games and Interaction.