May 15, 2013
by Anastasia Salter
Games to Play:
Brainstorm a game idea from a subject you teach. Combine:
- A main learning objective
- A mechanic of play
- A meaningful opportunity for interaction
Resources from my ProfHacker Games in the Classroom Series:
Making Games With…
…and some advice: be weird (via Mark Sample + Anna Anthropy) and don’t be afraid to fail
February 25, 2013
by Anastasia Salter
I’ve been keeping up with the Learning Creative Learning MOOC. For week three’s “homework” I decided to play with Scratch to create a simple interactive animation illustrating a morning run. The art is sketched, scanned, and quickly filled in with colors in Photoshop. The code is pretty simple: as you press the up arrow, the runner “moves” and all the objects around her get closer through several screens. Most of the objects can be clicked to reveal something else, in a style borrowed from the current craze of iPad interactive picture books.
Concept-wise, I wanted to try and capture what I like about a morning run: the undisturbed time to plot and imagine all the things I’d like to create or write or dream about. I also wanted to emphasize the meditative attentiveness that accompanies running: if you keep pressing “up” too quickly, you might miss a lot.
Click through to play:
February 18, 2013
by Anastasia Salter
I’m taking part in the Learning Creative Learning MOOC. The first assignment is to write a “gears of childhood” essay about a favorite childhood object. Here’s my ode to Sculpey.
As a child I was more about the mental world than the physical world. Most of my time was spent nose in a book or playing adventure games. Sculpey Clay was one of the few physical toys I really loved and I would always pester my parents for more colors. A newly-opened pack of clay felt too hard in my fingers, so my first act was always to smush the squares and remove any trace of the edges until it stopped resisting my shapes. I kept the newly-reformed clay in Tupperware bins, carefully sorted by color to avoid unintentional cross-contamination, and built quite a collection over the years.
I made lots of random unrecognizable things. I confused the residents of my Playmobil houses by giving them clay roasts and vegetables built on directions from my friend’s dollhouse furnishing book. I turned to Sculpey Clay for school projects. When I was supposed to build a diorama of a scene from a favorite book, I chose the moment from the fourth voyage when Sinbad was stuck in the cave of bones and dead bodies. I went to the store and picked the most translucent and sickly looking white I could find and spent hours shaping them into odd alien-looking skulls and leg bones. I put the entire collection in a black shoe box with only a few holes for light to shine through the clay, and built the cave walls and stranded clay-Sinbad at the bottom. (Now that I think about it, I’m amazed my third grade teacher didn’t file a report.)
My fourth grade “type-3″ research project was on the Ancient Egyptian afterlife, so I built a model of the weighing of the heart ceremony, complete with heart. I remember going back and forth about whether the heart should be “realistic” or not, but deciding that the hallmark card version was more recognizable than any attempt I made at adding valves. That was about it for me and realism…there was a class on making fairy dolls with clay at the local craft store, and I talked my parents into signing me up. When I got there I was disappointed to find out that she wanted us to use molds for the hands and head. Sure, it actually looked like it was “supposed” to, but it also looked just like everybody else’s. I realized I wasn’t much interested in detail or having it look right, and I never bothered with a mold–or an actual class–again.
As I got older I still loved making stories and worlds, only now I do it on the computer. But sometimes I miss the tactile feel of clay and how I could shape it with physical effort instead of code. Every now and then the impulse to make something I can touch will drive me to quilting, drawing, or even picking up an old pack of Sculpey clay. As the physical-digital divide blurs and fades, it’s even easier to make things like I did as a kid. Currently I’m fascinated by mobile development and particularly iPad adventure games and interactive books. I love how they add a slightly different tactile experience to something born-digital. And of course that’s just the beginning–wearable computing, ARGs, 3D printing etc. all might be the Sculpey clay for the next generation, when kids get control of those technologies and reshape them to suit what they want to create.