Western Arctic Moving Pictures (WAMP), with the support of the NWT arts council and The Yellowknife Community Foundation, put on a summer video game workshop focused on indigenous youth. The curriculum was developed by facilitator Meagan Byrne and supplemented by the Initiative for Indigenous Futures “Skins” program and WAMP’s Hackspace program and will be used as educational resources for future programming. The workshop was joined by indigenous researcher Gabrielle Hughes whose research relates to indigenous expression in digital forms such as video games. Gabrielle presented her research into video games as they relate to indigenous culture and people.
The design of the workshop was to make ten small games, one each day, to highlight different aspects of game design. This approach highlighted iterative design, a process key to game design, where students learn a topic then conceive, prototype, play and analyze. The group started with creating physical games such as with board games, cards, or playing outside and then move to applying what they learned to digital games.
The workshop sought to integrate indigenous culture through participation with elders, artists, language holders and location. Elders and language holders were brought in to try the games as playtesters and to inform the design. The group then created a Cree language game that allowed for the elders and youth to teach and share the language in a fun atmosphere.NWT artist John Rombough talked with youth about his development and career as an artist and where he’d like to see his art go in the digital realm. Video games are a perfect medium to bring northern artwork to life and this workshop series hopes to develop that relationship. In Fort Smith, we spent the first week of the workshop at the Thebacha hall by Salt River a beautiful and culturally significant location for the Northwest Territory Metis Nation.
Indigenous people partake in the medium of video games but are under represented or worse falsely represented in that medium. The workshop strove to provide a critical lens to see video games and consider how indigenous people’s stories and art could be integrated into this medium that most youth are actively engaging with. A highlight of the the workshop was seeing elders and youth interacting with games as an intergenerational medium. Elders acting as language consultants helped the workshop participants to come up with story ideas to integrate into their games. In the NWT, games have always been played in the form of traditional games and later with playing cards and board-games. This point of contact allowed youth and elders to see game design beyond the computer and work first hand with the creative and clever learning experiences game design can provide. Teaching game design as a constant work in progress was a captive and collaborative process and through play testing, designing and discovery, it was also empowering.
Written by: Travis Mercredi,
Hack Space just hosted 2 more workshops! One in Tulita and the other in Norman Wells. We had the pleasure of teaming up with Mackenzie Mountain School and Chief Albert Wright School to put on a week long workshop with over 70 students attending!
Check out the photos:
Hay River Centennial Library
Feb. 17-24th, 2017
3:30 – 5:00 pm (with additional evening sessions TBD)
HackSpace NT and The Hay River Centennial Library are joining forces to present a free drop-in workshop exhibiting new STEM based education tools. The goals of HackSpace NT are to create essential skills for young Northerners as citizens of an increasingly digital world. Developing digital communication skills allows individuals to share their insights and ideas in cross-curricular activities and learn about digital literacy and its application to the modern workforce.
A workshop series giving Northern youth a chance to gain practical experience in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields.
Through this WAMP Program, youth will be given the chance to work with Kano Kit Raspberry Pi computers, a popular and simple computer interface that teaches the basics of toy-hacking and coding. Participants will also get to learn with the “Little Bits” and toy hacking programs, which will give them a foundation for creating, using, and customizing technology. Programs like these have a far reach in terms of creating a comfortable understanding in users, and can inspire a life long passion and dedication to the STEM fields.
Kano: This program for youth teaches the construction of Kano Kit Raspberry Pi Computers and ‘Scratch’ game programming software. Focusing on educating youth on the foundations of digital/video game design, specifically as a means of storytelling through digital gaming and animation,Instructors will lead these workshops using a variety of digital tools, including software called Scratch, to teach youth.
Littlebits: DIY electronics where participants explore by inventing devices using supplied electronic building blocks. By combining hands on projects with online lessons and examples, we hope to tap into kids’ innate curiosity by getting them to build with their hands, at the same time as they interact with quizzes that ensure they understand the workings behind the project, to teach youth.
Toy Hacking: Soldering and circuit bending old toys to familiarize youth with the basics of how circuitry works. Salvaged electronics, toys and instruments will be dismantled and re-appropriated into new devices. At the end of the workshop participants will be able to leave with their own custom Toys, Objects or Musical Instruments and a basic understanding behind the function of everyday electronics through guided, hands on exploration.
3D printing / Modeling: Model building and scanning physical objects to recreate them with 3D printing technology. Participants will learn how to model an object in a 3d program such as blender. These skills are transferable to many uses including prototyping and video game development.
Please note these are our first sessions, other sessions will follow so stay tuned for other dates in other communities.