Guiding Students Through Designing & Prototyping a Game


Back in July, I volunteered at Into Games to help a group of students with project management for designing and prototyping a mining game loop. This was my first ever mentoring experience.

Published on November 17, 2021 by Amy Elliott

Volunteering Mentoring Project Management

4 min READ

This is a legacy post, ported from my old portfolio. If you notice a mistake or a bug, please report it here.


I’ve always been interested to help out students with learning more about games development. At this point, I had never done any games mentoring beforehand, and the mentoring knowledge I had, in general, was very small as I’m still a student at the moment. I usually find that the best way to learn what you want is to just do whatever it is you want to learn, and dive into the deep end, and so once I heard about this mentoring opportunity, I applied straight away!

In comparison to the SideFest mentoring role I have done a week or two after this, this role was more involved, and so this opportunity by Into Games was perfect! I was tasked with helping several college students from Access Creative College through designing and prototyping a game as a team, and this would involve me running daily stand-ups and sessions on project management.


Event: Into Games Virtual Work Experience
Date of event: July 2021


How to prepare a PowerPoint for teaching

In my SideFest mentoring blog, I made a PowerPoint for teaching the students about how to publish their game onto Itch.io and I wasn’t the one presenting those, but these PowerPoints I’m using during my sessions which I run with the students.

I had to make sure the sessions I organized went along with the objectives given on the internal objectives document, so following along with that, I made this PowerPoint so it had all the objectives, and some other key points within it, which I would further be able to talk about during the sessions.


Presenting to and preparing a group

Presenting Image

As mentioned before, this opportunity to help students was different from my other mentoring experience as this was a lot more hands-on, and due to this, my role was to run daily stand-ups for my team and run some other sessions as well to help them understand what they had to do.

The sessions which I had to help the students out on were scheduled for a certain amount of time, with the introduction and daily stand-ups being 15 minutes, and the other sessions being a bit longer, so having a scheduled amount of time helped me keep an eye on how long my sessions ran and make sure the content fits within the time.

Preparing a group to make a game, or a project is something I’ve briefly done in the past when making game jam games or university projects, but it has never been the main focus like this would be. So, using what I’ve learned before, for the first session, I got to know each of the students, informed them of the plans for the week, told them about the sites which they’re going to be using, briefed the project to them, and helped them with getting prepared to approach the project, by helping them assign roles to each other, and this went well!

The next session I had with the students was to see their ideas and help them pick their favorite without influencing their final choice too much, so, I asked them questions about each idea (which is on the PowerPoint!) – Which would help them decide as a group which of their ideas is the strongest.

I won’t explain every session which I had with the students, but through daily stand-ups with them, I was able to help them out with any feedback, or general help they needed, and I was able to track their progress by asking them what they achieved yesterday, and what they plan on doing that day.


Conclusion

Through helping these students out for game development work experience, I was able to learn more about teaching, giving feedback, and most of all, project management.

It was great fun to see the group’s work develop over the week and see them reflect on feedback. Their end product was very impressive!

And as I’ve written this blog a few months after I had finished this, I’ve done a few more mentoring activities, which I’ve written about in these blogs below:


Helping Students With Programming & Problem Solving In a GameJam. - Nov 13, 2021
Shortly after volunteering to mentor at an Into Games event, I had found an opportunity to help students solve any problems with programming in a Gamejam using Twine, which is a tool I’ve not used before!

Being a Guest Speaker At a Highschool - Dec 14, 2021
I delivered a talk to students in my old high school, this was my first time talking in front of a large audience in person, as up to this point, a lot of the stuff I had done was online due to covid!