Sixth graders: the next gen of game devs

Last Friday I spoke with three different local sixth grade classes about making games. It’s always a kick to connect with some younger gaming consumers. Here are some notes I’ve compiled should you ever find yourself talking to two dozen 11-year-olds about your job as a game developer:
  • Sixth graders haven’t thought about frame rates. When asked about how often a new frame needs to be displayed in order to get the feeling of motion, the answers went as high as 1,000,000 times per second.
  • Sixth graders are observant. We evaluated a game screenshot and identified "things that the game had to figure out" in order to generate the frame. The list was long: character animation, collisions, dust (particle effects), vehicles (physics), projectiles/weapon-fire, water effects, lighting, shadows, music, sound fx, and cloth. When we were done we had covered just about everything that might happen in a typical game loop. The things they didn’t think about (because they’re not obvious from a screenshot) were input and networking.
  • Sixth graders aren’t afraid to ask tough questions: why does my Xbox 360 have three red lights? when is Microsoft going to make a new console? how are you going to compete with Wii? why does game <X> always stutter or freeze?
  • Sixth graders have lots of good ideas: you should make a trivia game that uses Xbox LIVE; you should make Xbox 360 smaller so I can take it to my friend’s house; you should partner up with Nintendo so you can use Wiimote on Xbox 360; you should make Xbox 360 cheaper so my parents will buy me one for Christmas.

If you ever get the chance to talk with future game programmers at your local school, do it. All you need is a couple of good trailers to set the stage, some screen shots that you can discuss in detail, and a willingness to answer some pretty off-the-wall questions.


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One Response to Sixth graders: the next gen of game devs

  1. Mark says:

    That’s awesome!  Talking to kids about game develompent is so much fun 🙂

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