For the past couple years I’ve been teaching game design to kids. As part of TEDx Jersey City I presented my work and some of the games my students created, explaining how the curriculum helps students develop higher order creative skills. Game design is an alternative form of teaching math, story telling and art and in the end, it’s a lot of fun.
Below is video of my talk, and the transcript (with images) is also available.
I started a game project with a developer and sound designer. It involves a hungry frog and I’ll be posting some of my process work here.
I created a 3d version of the frog in Sketchup so that I could use it as reference for my 2D art work. I have limited skills in Sketchup but find it’s a great way to prep work for drawing. Being able to change positions and zoom allows the objects to have consistent proportions no matter how they’re viewed.
Big eyes, big belly and big thighs let you know it’s a frog you’re dealing with and not a gecko. I added some eye lids to give a bit more expression, but he may look a little too laid back.
The difficulty with a standing frog is dealing with the head integrated with the torso. I like the idea of the frog as just a giant head with legs.
A few little froggies, with a new one that stands. May look a little too much like Kermit though. Standing frog looks a little hunched over.
This was my first pass at creating a frog. It was decided that the frog needed to be able to stand however.
Working as an artist can be a lonely existence. It’s difficult to gauge if things are really working when you’re isolated from your audience. The same can be true when teaching young children; it’s hard to tell if your lessons are being comprehended when your students have a limited capacity for expression. But occasionally something happens to make you realize that things really are sinking in and that you’ve made a difference in someone’s understanding of the world.
Back in November ’13 I gave a talk at TEDx Jersey City about the game design class I’ve been teaching to children in northern NJ. Below is the transcript of my talk, including some of the images I used to showcase the work of my students. Video to come!
Let’s Make Games: A Game Design Curriculum for Young People
A couple of years ago I went to a fund raising auction for my daughters’ charter school and was surprised to see numerous tables filled with children’s art projects, each one with a small basket to collect bids. I couldn’t for the life of me understand who would bid on an art project that wasn’t created by their own child.
Maybe the school had a young prodigy who could dramatically distill the essence and struggles of losing a dog or extolling the joys of space travel. More likely the projects were something the kids enjoyed making but were best displayed on their families fridge, not up for auction at Sotheby’s for Babies.
I’ll be exhibiting a few more of my truck paintings in Jersey City this month as part of 58 Coles Gallery “Art Hump“. The opening is Friday, February 7th from 7-10PM at 58 Coles Street, Jersey City.
Susan Newman has a weekly online radio show of entrepreneurs in northern NJ and I was interviewed last week. We had a good conversation about game design, technology, teaching and exhibiting artwork. You can hear the half hour interview on iTunes here (dated January 20th, 2014) or download the MP3 file here.
In conjunction with my exhibit at Two Boots I’ve created a customizable van coloring page. Print out the PDF, color with marker, crayon, pencil, nail polish, whatever! Post on Twitter with the hashtag #customvan and share with the world.
I’m currently exhibiting my watercolor paintings of trucks at Two Boots in Jersey City. They’ll be up until the beginning of February and I’ll be hanging out there with my kids on Monday, January 20th from 12-2pm. I’ll have coloring activities for the kids so drop by, grab a slice and check out my paintings.
Two Boots, 133 Newark Ave, Jersey City, NJ
Here’s video from the opening:
Jay Boucher is surrounded by trucks. Trailers, dump trucks, delivery vans, garbage trucks; day and night they rumble and rattle past his ground floor studio. Seeing life and personality in these utilitarian machines, Jay decided to render them in the fluid medium of watercolor.
I’m looking forward to playing some games with my daughters this Christmas. I just bought Mastermind a couple weeks ago and we can’t stop playing. They’re fascinated at how I can deduce which colors they’ve chosen based on the clues they gave me and they’ve gradually gotten better at figuring out the codes themselves. Playing games can be a great way to bring people together, challenge each other and learn a little in the process. Here’s hoping everyone has a fun holiday!
UPDATE: We got games for Christmas! We now have The Settlers of Catan and Ticket To Ride in our game library.
For our final class in “Let’s Make Games” we created board games based on the idea of a quest. We spent a couple of Friday afternoons drawing a maze, creating playing pieces and dice, and developing a story for our game boards. Students created rules to follow and made short cuts and dangers. During our final class we had snacks and played our games together using 10 sided dice.
It’s been a fun trimester at HOLA and we’ve had a good time mixing art, design and craft to make enjoyable, colorful games. The kids created imaginative and decorative pieces and it’s been a blast. I’ve loved having such enthusiastic creators and I know they’ve enjoyed the projects too. None of my students wanted to leave our last class!