Since we started homeschooling 3-1/2 years ago, we've had a bit of trouble finding activities in the Decatur area that my son, now 14-1/2, is interested in. We do bowling, but most of the time, activities are too far away for us to travel or he's just plain not interested. He is a total game freak, though. His whole world revolves around gaming to the point he wants to go into video game development when he graduates college.
So, I had the thought of why don't we start a group/class for gamers here in Decatur? The group/class would be open for all full-time homeschool students, ages 13 and up, regardless of church school and experience or lack thereof, who are interested in some aspect of video game design. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_design and related pages to learn about the different elements of game design and programming.) The goal of the group would be to, using an appropriate open-source (free) game engine, develop and design a game of the group's desired genre to be entered in the next appropriate IGF Student Competition. IGF (Independent Games Festival) is to games what Sundance is to movies, and their Student Competition is open to full-time students ages 13 and up and is designed to allow students to showcase what they're learning and apply what they've learned in new ways. See www.igf.com for more information.
Throughout the process of designing their game, the group members will learn or improve on various skills, including research, writing, collaboration and cooperation, planning, leadership, basic programming skills (probably in Python or C++), lateral thinking, creativity, problem solving, quality control, and more.
The entire design process, from researching exactly what video game design entails and what software and programming languages they'll need to learn to the final product will be done and managed entirely by the group/class members. They won't be totally on their own, however. The group sponsor will provide guidance, encouragement, and assistance in management of the project. In addition, the group will have opportunities to email an actual programmer should they need professional help.
I don't have a particular start date for this as of yet, as I'm still looking to see if there's enough of an interest to do this as well as for a location in Decatur with WiFi to hold the classes/meetings. My plan is that the classes/membership will be free of charge. Once students choose the programming language to learn the basics of, they may wish to purchase the book we'll be using, but doing so will not be necessary unless they want to get ahead or do advanced work.Students/group members will need to provide their own laptops, however. Classes/meetings would probably be held once a week in Decatur for 1-1/2 to 2 hours on a day and at a time most convenient to the majority of student/members. If your teen is interested in participating in this class/group or if you have any questions, comments, concerns, ideas, etc., please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please feel free to pass this post around to any other homeschoolers or homeschool groups or covers that might have teens who would be interested.