Helping Students With Programming & Problem Solving


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!

Published on November 13, 2021 by Amy Elliott

Volunteering Mentoring

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.

Helping students out who are new to games development is something I love doing.

I previously helped out some college students with designing and prototyping a game and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to put myself forward to help some more students out a week or two later!

What I was doing was helping a class of college students out with their own Gamejams, where they used Twine to make a game based around student loans. My job was to help the students find resources, manage their workload, give feedback, and help solve any problems they had with programming!


Event: SideFest Twine GameJam
Date of event: July 2021


Twine

Twine Image

The first thing I learned about is Twine.
Twine is a free and open-source tool for making interactive fiction in the form of web pages.

I’ve never used Twine before, but as I had to help students out with issues they had, I had to make sure I knew Twine well enough to help out and be able to find good resources.

I spent some time looking over Twine videos and playing around to get to understand it, and then looked into the documentation. It was well documented, so that was a good resource for me to use.

There wasn’t much time between me applying to do this, and the gamejam starting, so I was learning along the way from helping out the students! And I learnt a lot!


Preparing a PowerPoint for teaching

As well as helping out with problems the students had with Twine, I was tasked to make a PowerPoint to guide the students through how to upload their game to Itch.io.

This was the PowerPoint I made:

I wasn’t going to be the one presenting the PowerPoint, so I had to make sure it was made with enough information for someone to present it.

My aim for this PowerPoint was to make it bright and fun with colours and pictures, but also have enough information on it for them to learn, but I didn’t want too much information that there was just lots of reading to do!

When I was making this PowerPoint, I tried to imagine that I was someone who didn’t know anything about Itch.io, so I included a summary of what Itch.io was, along with some important information about it, how to make an account, and finally how to publish their game, as this is what I would imagine would be important to know!


How to help

Feedback Image

As this gamejam all ran online on a Discord server, the help I was offering was all text-based, and this would either be by chatting to the students or giving them all their feedback on a board for them to read through.
Here’s an example of one of the boards:

Board Image

The students would send me their games, and I would play them and give them feedback, as well as this, they would send me their code, and I would give general code feedback, and help them understand good code practices, along with this, I provided multiple resources for the students to refer to, so instead of just telling them the good code practices, I was able to provide examples.

I really enjoyed doing this! And by the end of the week, there were some really clever, and creative games which were produced!


Conclusion

Through helping out with this Gamejam, it’s helped me realize that mentoring is really fun!
It’s definitely something which I would like to do more of in the future.

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


Guiding Students Through Designing & Prototyping a Game - Nov 17, 2021
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.

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!