Busy week of Games Dev events

So far my blog posts have all been for software releases, but I guess that isn’t really what blogging is all about, so I thought I’d try doing a more standard blog since last week was quite an interesting one. On Monday I ran a whole day of staff CPD training for Kersland School in Paisley, which is a School for children with additional support needs. A few of their staff had been at a previous CPD event I had run and requested I do a whole staff training event for them. They were particularly interested in how they could use xGames and Kinect in the classroom, so I focused on my Kinect Games, xGames and also did some Kodu with them. Overall it went extremely well, although perhaps it could have been more tailored for their learners.

Kinect Angles being played by teachers from Kersland School

On Tuesday I was at a meeting with the Principal & Vice Principal of the college, along with other staff, about the future E-Learning strategy of the college. I think I was mainly there to give an update on the xGames project, however it was very interesting to hear the thoughts of the management on the way forward in regards to embedding IT more in the learner experience in the future and I hopefully managed to contribute a little as well.

On Wednesday I organised what I think was a very successful event, we had 3 graduates from UWS, along with a final year UWS Computer Animation student and a guy with 30 years experience working mostly freelance in the Games Industry. Two of the UWS guys were ex Reid Kerr College HNC Games Graduates and one of them recently graduated with a 1st class honours and has secured a job as a programmer in industry.

The big lecture theatre in Renfrew North was packed with standing room only left by the time the event kicked off and we had well over 100 students from the various Computer Games courses and from Creative Arts.

Packed out RN Lecture Theatre for talk about Jobs in the Games Industry

The main speaker was Lauren McKellan from One Thumb Mobile in Glasgow. Lauren graduated from UWS with a degree in Computer Animation and now works for a mobile games company as their Lead Artist, mainly working on 3D models and Animation. She spoke in detail with the students about how to get a job in the games industry and gave them some invaluable advice about online portfolios and the content they should put into them. Sean also gave some great advice on the business side of things for those that might want to work freelance in the industry.

In the Q&A session at the end, the 2 ex-RKC students (James & James) really came to the floor and answered a lot of questions about the progression from College to University and what would be expected of them. They hopefully demonstrated that FE students can go onto University and achieve and go on to great things, through hard work and dedication.

On Thursday I had to deliver an online webinar for JISC RSC TV on the xGames JISC funded project. In this I provided an overview of the project from initial concept to completion and I also went over the benefits of the games for learners of all ages. The session should be available soon to watch back by clicking here.
Later on the same day, I was taking part in the first Virtual University session for Microsoft Partners in Learning Appathon Competition. I am one of 50 educators from around Europe taking part in this event. 25 out of the 50 educators will be selected by Microsoft to join them in January for an all-expenses paid trip to London to take part in the first Microsoft 24 hour Appathon for educators, where we will work with an expert to create an educational app for Windows mobile 7/8 platforms. The winning app will be put out onto the Windows Store for educators’ world wide to make use of.

The first sessions was very good, however I struggled to keep up as I was unaware that Microsoft’s TouchDevelop platform was HTML5 only and IE9 on my Windows7 laptop isn’t compatible. It must have pained the MS tutor to say it, but I was informed by him to install Google Chrome which is HTML5 compatible. Once I got Chrome installed it was all good. I also had the weird experience this weekend of playing about with Microsoft TouchDevelop on Google Chrome on my Apple Ipad.

At the end of the session we were set our first homework assignment, the second part of which was to use the Turtle library in TouchDevelop to come up with a script to draw something of our own choosing. In my vain attempt to court favour from my Microsoft tutor I came up with a script to get my turtle to draw the picture below. You think it will work?

USA Flag created using the Turtle Library in MS TouchDevelop

It doesn’t stop there, next week I have a meeting on Monday with someone from East Renfrewshire education department about using Games Dev in East Renfrewshire Schools and how we can assist with this; perhaps in the area of CPD for teachers. On Wednesday we have a guy called Dave Sharp coming in to speak to our students. He has 30 years experience in the games industry, including time spent working overseas, in places such as New York. He currently runs a video game company (Digital Asylum) and was one of the key guys behind the successful train2game online course. He will be speaking to them about the paths into the games industry.

Should be fun!

Video showing my USA Flag Turtle script running on Google Chrome on my Ipad.

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