Design Games in Minecraft with Connected Camps

Connected Camps brings the fun, creativity, and social experience of summer camp online. Your child can learn to code, use redstone, design fantastical cities, create animations, build games and more in the virtual worlds of Minecraft and Scratch. The best part—join from anywhere! Campers ages 8-13 build, play, and share with instruction from expert tech mentors. View our full schedule of summer camps by clicking here.

Among the most popular activities in Minecraft are minigames, or games created within Minecraft itself. Some are recreations of games that existed before Minecraft like Ender Golf and Capture the Flag.  Others like Spleef, Prop Hunt, or Gravity Droppers take their inspiration from Minecraft mechanics and gameplay. Many servers are dedicated to hosting minigames, and countless YouTube videos focus on avid Minecraft players making their own competitions and activities. Have you ever tried to make your own game in Minecraft? If your child loves playing Minecraft, Game Design Camp is the perfect place to kickstart a passion for creating and designing games. Here’s five reasons why:

Minecraft  Is an Easy Way for Kids to Get Started with Game Design

Parents might wonder if young kids can really learn how to design games. Game design at the college level and beyond usually means programming and using professional applications, but for kids, MInecraft if perfect. Kids who are into Minecraft can get started on game design much earlier because they are already have the tools for building arenas, battlefields, dungeons and racetracks.  It’s an opportunity to explore the game mechanics and game design principles without the hurdle of learning a new platform.  Campers bring their knowledge of Minecraft minigames and tools to camp, and get started right away designing new games.

Campers Learn How to Create and Design in Teams

Making games on our Minecraft servers means that kids can work together, and with their counselors. Designing cooperatively is rewarding and fosters close relationships with friends and mentors.  When young designers have creative differences they have the opportunity to grapple with cooperation and teamwork. Our counselors are there to guide campers through this experience as they learn about compromise, cooperate, and create together.  Campers focus on creating games that are fair and fun for each player, considering the players’ experience first, before their own needs. If we can work together to design a fair and fun game, everyone wins!

Campers Learn to Use New Tools and Techniques

When campers design games in Minecraft, they learn to use new tools and techniques. For example, campers communicate with each other and with our counselors using both voice chat and in-game text chat, each with its own etiquette that our counselors teach and model. Game design also involves knowledge of special Minecraft blocks and items such as redstone, pistons, slime, and cobwebs. Campers are encouraged to explore these unique mechanics within Minecraft when designing.

Game Design Brings Together Creativity and Engineering

Kids love constructing grand, fantastic monuments in Minecraft, from castles to cities to mosaics and much more. Game Design Camp takes kids’ drive to create in Minecraft and channels it into the engineering of game rules and mechanics. All game designers need to analyze and engineer rules. In our camp, we discuss rules of both familiar and new games because deconstructing familiar games is a great way to gather ideas for new games. In addition to building structures, we encourage campers to apply their creativity to rules and game mechanics, merging concrete and more abstract types of design thinking.

Games Make Design and Engineering Fun!

Playing something you’ve created yourself  is immensely satisfying. Campers can create games similar to ones they know and love, or they can create games that are unlike any game they’ve ever played! Campers leave with ideas they’ve developed and can continue to develop and use, and most want to show off their creations to others. Designing and creating games can be a lifelong hobby as enjoyable as playing them.

Jake Lui is a third year music student at USC and the Connected Camps Lead Counselor for game design.

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