Students learn to design computer games

femal instructor helping middle school student on computer 

Above: Hallie Presley (left), 14 and Cole Hollingsworth,
11, both of Franklin, work on video game design
Thursday during 3-D Gaming Camp at Southcentral
Kentucky Community and Technical College's
Franklin-Simpson Center in Franklin. Left: Students
design video games during the camp.
Photos by Bac To Trong/Daily News



By CHUCK MASON The Daily News
FRANKLIN — Sam Ross looked over his computer screen and considered his next move.

Sam, 13, a rising freshman at Franklin-Simpson High School, was putting together a video loop during the free 3-D Gaming Camp at the Franklin-Simpson Center of Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College.

The program is part of Career Craze options through the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, said Mark Brooks, SKYCTC spokesman.

Sam of Franklin created a little wolf character called SHECK on the computer screen’s left side. On the right side, he uses a computer program called Scratch to give directions to the little wolf. He can make the wolf move around a box on the screen, have him ask questions and then answer them or perform other tasks.

“You take a regular GIF (graphics interchange format) picture and convert the picture and change the size of the costumes,” Sam said. He’s interested in creating video games as a profession.

“It’s pretty cool,” said Taylor Alford, also a rising freshman at FSHS. “You get to program a robot, and then you can make it move like you want it to.”

Taylor was working on a computer program that would have a cartoon mouse follow a circle on the screen.
Mary Helen Hendricks, director of SKYCTC’s Interactive Digital Center, said Scratch allows the kids to use a simplified code language that uses more English to explain directions.

The code directions are in different colors, depending on which function it controls.

“We are helping them to understand how to integrate the different concepts,” she said.

On Tuesday, the kids learned about parallelism, meaning two or more things are happening at the same

 Middle school student designing games on computers

Students design video games Thursday, June 19, 2014,
during 3-D Gaming Camp at Southcentral Kentucky
Community and Technical College Franklin-Simpson
Center in Franklin. (Bac To Trong/Daily News)


time, versus an event or a sequence, where something happens after something else has happened. “In a (computer) game, you don’t use sequences a lot,” Hendricks said.

Hendricks said math knowledge is important for creating video games. She also said kids should look at existing video games to see how they work. Hendricks said a key to video games’ success is they are addictive.

“It’s like trying to eat just one potato chip,” she said, adding that video game companies will initially offer their games for free for the first five plays, then charge a nominal fee like 99 cents to play more often.
The average video game participant is in their 30s, she said.

Cole Hollingsworth, 11, a rising sixth-grader of Franklin, worked on a fictional juke box, tying the colorful box on the screen to a list of requested songs. Cole said he started tapping on an iPad when he was 8, going into the device and changing the settings. “I figured out how it worked,” he said.

Hallie Presley, 14, a rising FSHS freshman, said she probably won’t be a video game designer, but likes working with the Scratch computer program.

Hendricks cautioned students to be realistic about games they design. “You’re not going to make ‘Call of Duty,’ but you can work your way up.”

 Hands drawing on paper

Eleven-year-old Christopher Eitel (left) and Hunter
Sutton, 11, both of Franklin, map out different levels
of a game Thursday, June 19, 2014, during 3-D Gaming
Camp at Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical
College Franklin-Simpson Center in Franklin.
(Photo by Bac To Trong/Daily News)