DMA Central


Adventures in 2D & 3D Video Game Creation

Course: Adventures in 2D & 3D Video Game Creation & Game Modding

DMA Instructor: Katy Mayer

Education: Montclair State University; Montclair, NJ (Major: Family & Child Studies, w/ Concentration in Elementary Education). Certified to teach Early Education and recently received her certification to teach Gifted & Talented students, from the University of California San Diego.

Professional Portrait: A versatile instructor with a wide range of technological and educational interests, Katy Mayer has spent the last two years teaching 4th Grade at La Jolla Elementary in San Diego, CA. During this time, she has shown her passion for the digital arts by teaching the Seminar class “Multimedia Fusion 2,” and by serving on the Technology Committee at her school. (She also attended the California Computing Educators or “CUE” Conference this year for Digital Media Academy.) Katy matches her classroom excellence with a variety of vigorous athletic pursuits, she’s a surf instructor of five years and also operated a surf clinic. She has also coached a high school varsity lacrosse team sports and served for two years as the head coach of a lacrosse camp.

DMA Campus: UCSD


Katy is just one of Digital Media Academy’s instructors who not only possess outstanding educational credentials, but also have backgrounds that reflect their diverse training and personal creativity. When Katy’s not teaching during the regular school year, she spends her summers with DMA at the University of California at San Diego.

As a local 4th Grade teacher, Katy Mayer knows how to bring out the best and brightest in kids.

“I was hired for the instructor’s position after working for DMA as a teacher’s assistant,” she recalls. The teacher’s assistant position was for DMA’s Jr. Adventures program in Game Creation. That same year, she was also serving as a TA for the Adventures in Surfing and Filmmaking Summer Camp. In that summer camp program, students shoot surf video using state-of-the-art video gear and then edit the footage into their own extreme surf film. Katy was also a TA for Digital Media Academy’s Adventures in Robotics program. At last year’s UCSD session, Katy taught Jr. Adventures in Art & Digital Photography and Adventures in 2D & 3D Game Design and Game Modding.

As part of her school’s Technology Committee, Katy keeps current on the latest software breakthroughs and emerging teaching methods. Katy is very excited to be gearing up for her third summer with DMA, and the prospect of working even more intensely with the technology she loves.

Katy’s passions are technology and helping children use it to tap into their natural creativity.

“I look forward to the four weeks when I’m able to work with students hands-on with a project-based curriculum and state-of-the-art technology,” she says. When asked about one of her most memorable experiences at DMA, Katy mentions last year’s 2D & 3D Video Game Creation class. Students started the program by learning how to make their own basic version of “Breakout” (the timeless 70s Pong-like classic where you hit a white dot across a screen to literally “break out” a playfield of bricks). That was just the first step though.

Campers then developed increasingly more sophisticated games as the week-long summer computer camp for kids continues (that’s right, kids aren’t making leather and beaded bracelets anymore). The interaction during camp – between the student and instructor, as well as between students – helped spark ideas that refined the games even further. By the end of the week, students had tangible proof of their expanded skill set.

“Not only do the students learn how to make a video game, but they are able to bring that game home to show their friends and family.”

This summer, Katy anticipates that aspiring game designers will again start the week of camp making a “Breakout”-like game. It’s a guided process that teaches kids the basics of game creation. Students will then add their own images and create a game theme. “After we build the complex and exciting parts of the game,” says Katy, “Students are given the freedom to independently create their own game using what they’ve learned. Many students are able to create three or more games by the end of the week. Not only do the students learn how to make a video game, but they are able to bring that game home to show their friends and family.”

The camp quickly brings students up to speed on game design basics, help them develop problem solving techniques and gets them on the path to creating their own ideas. Students test and play each other’s projects, sharing ideas along the way. The finishing touch is adding sound effects and then standing back and watching campers being blown away by what they’ve created.

Katy and the next generation of game makers – DMA’s 2D & 3D Game Designers, Class of 2010.

Katy enjoys DMA’s total approach to the digital media camp experience. When not in the classroom instructing this summer, chances are you will find her helping another Jr. Adventures class as a teacher’s assistant, or outside enjoying some recreational fun with Jr. Adventure campers. She’s delighted to welcome each summer’s new game designers to DMA, but Katy’s really overjoyed when she sees students coming back for more. “This will be my third year at the UCSD campus and it’s a thrill to see students return year after year to advance their skills or to take another course.”

Digital Media Academy offers one-week and two-week-long summer computer camps for kids ages 6-12. DMA is also a Certified Apple Training Center and offers one-on-one training for budding game designers of all age groups, in a wide range of creative areas. DMA instructors are industry and educational professionals with quality credentials that count. Like Katy Mayer.


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posted by DMA Jordan in 3D Game Development,News Blog and have No Comments

A Closer Look at MMF2

Hi! I’m Ben Jaffe, one of the instructors for Digital Media Academy’s Adventures Program. I want to give you a closer look at Multimedia Fusion 2, one of the primary software packages we use in the class to create dynamic and exciting games.

There are several computer programming languages that programmers use to communicate with computers. Learning how to program is very similar to learning a new language. You also have to learn how computers “think,” so you can give the computer instructions effectively and efficiently. Teaching a programming language to 9-13 years olds would be difficult and possibly boring to many of the kids; teaching the main concepts is much more fun. That is what Multimedia Fusion 2 (MMF2) allows us to do! We can teach our students the main concepts of game design. If they pursue computer programming at a later age, they’ll already understand many of the concepts of programming from this class.

The window pictured below allows the students to visually lay out the graphical elements in the game. This is one of the two main windows in MMF2. This is where the students choose the graphics, design the game’s levels, and tell the objects how to move (bounce, walk/jump, etc).

MMF2: Frame Editor

In every game, there are graphics and objects that move around the screen. Normally, a programmer would have to write code to get an object to move in any way, but our students can focus on the concepts instead of grappling with writing code. In MMF2, there are several movement types to chose from. In this example, we’re telling the ball to bounce around like a bouncing ball.

MMF2: Selecting a Movement Type

The Event Editor is the other main window in MMF2 (pictured below). This is where you program the “brains” of your game. The Event Editor lets you program without writing a single line of code. Technically speaking, you are creating “conditionals” in this window. Whenever “this” happens, do “that.” For example, line number 9 says “If the number of lives reaches 0, then restart the application.” By creating lists of these conditionals, we can create complex and interesting games that our students can be proud of! Multimedia Fusion 2 games will run on any Windows computer.

MMF2: The Event Editor

I’m very excited to be teaching MMF2 again, and I hope I see you all at DMA this summer!
-Ben Jaffe

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Adventures: Kids Learn Video Game Creation

I’m Ben Jaffe, one of the instructors for Digital Media Academy’s Adventures Program. I teach Game Design and Web Design.

On the surface, the Game Design class may look somewhat straightforward. But it’s much more than simply creating fun games with our students. In our classes, we also teach important programming concepts, which can be the foundation for a future programming career.

Game Building can be frustrating for somebody who has never done it before. As games become more and more complex, the instructors are there to help them understand how to build their games well. Programmers call it “extensibility.” Here’s an example of how students encounter this in DMA’s Adventures Game Design class:

A few days into the week, we usually start working on an RPG game. The player controls a character who interacts with bystanders in the game to get information or collect items. The students quickly discover how frustrating it is to program actions for every single bystander in the game individually. The same goes for other objects in the game, such as allies, enemies, keys, coins, and projectiles. It’s much easier to group them together, and make a rule saying, “Whenever the character talks to any bystander, run this action.”

3d Game Design Making Video Games at DMA

Extensibility is not the only programming concept that we teach to the kids. They learn the importance of game planning, bug testing, and proper pacing to effectively meet deadlines. They also develop an understanding of variables, and an introductory understanding of object-oriented programming. Instead of lecturing to the students, we let them discover and understand the concepts by themselves, with guidance.

Most importantly, we teach the kids programming concepts without them even realizing it! If they pursue a career in computer science or game design, they will already understand the importance of extensibility, testing, planning, and pacing. Though it may seem like just another fun summer course, every student gets much more out of it – skills they can use for the rest of their lives.

See you in the Summer!

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