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Workshop allows high school students to create games for Windows 8


IT CAMP STORY 1

Students from select local high schools work on creating games for Windows 8 in an FIU computer lab.

While plenty of students are downloading and playing games on their smart phones and tablets this summer, a number of high school students are busy creating them at FIU.

As part of a joint effort by Miami-Dade County Public Schools, FIU and Microsoft, 24 students from Booker T. Washington, Miami Central and Miami Jackson senior high schools took part in a code development workshop from Aug. 7-9 at a computer lab located in Primera Casa.

During the three-day workshop, the students were learning how to create game apps – particularly 2-D shooter and side-scrolling games – using GameMaker from YoYoGames.com. Some of the games created may soon become available in the Windows 8 store.

The students did not have enough time to go through the publication process, but as students complete their games and look to publish, they will be helped along by Microsoft developer evangelist Joe Healy and technical evangelist James Quick.

“The idea is for them to come out of this with the idea of being a game creator instead of a general app consumer,” Healy said. “We want to flip these kids from the mode of being a consumer into the mode of being a creator.”

Not only do they have a chance to create games, but students like Booker T. Washington’s Richie Revere can also use the opportunity to polish their college applications as a number of students prepare for their senior year.

“It’s a great experience because we get to learn this stuff now instead of learning later,” Revere said. “It gives us an advantage over everyone else who wants to get into this field.”

The camp also keeps students involved in constructive activities that will help them prepare for the upcoming school year.

“This opportunity is just broadening their knowledge base, especially in computers and the gaming world,” said Elena Peraza, the information technology teacher at Miami Jackson. “It keeps the students engaged, using their creativity to experiment with new things.”

Healy also enjoyed working with the students at FIU’s computer lab, giving a glowing review of the facilities.

“This is the best computer lab I’ve seen in all the universities I’ve been to in the state of Florida,” he said.

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