The fist OLPC game jam was successfully held yesterday Dec 15th 2007, at Prime College in Kathmandu.
The purpose of the game jam was mainly to familiarize students, teachers and enthusiasts with squeak, its history, and how it is used to develop various applications–such as the activities developed by OLE Nepal. The event was intended to be a fun learning session rather than a programming lesson, and I can gladly say that participants enjoyed the event.
About 25 people attended the event but the most interesting and an important part that made this game jam a success was diversity. There were students of different grades, teachers with various background, the extremely talented OLE development team and expert like Bert Freudenberg who talked briefly about the history of squeak and EToys, and showed some intriguing demos that set the tone for the day.
1. Introduction (about OLPC and OLE-Nepal, squeak how-to, its interface and using squeak in general).
2. Scripting and Advance scripting in squeak.
3. Exercises and Interaction
There where practice sessions and breaks in between to give everyone a chance to work with squeak, explore its features, and ask questions and interact with the team.
The whole game jam was based on a simple car game that participants had to make during the course of the day, and the simplicity with they could use features in squeak to do something like this kept everyone glued to their screen. Many even took initiative to do more; some participants were trying to control the car that they just got running with keystrokes rather than using the mouse, and another participant was trying to reduce the speed of the car once its strays away from the track that it should be running on, adding a more authentic feel to this simple game that he just made. At the end of the day everyone seems to want to learn more.
What did we learn from this game jam?
A lot …I will list a few:
1. Everyone, especially the younger bunch was very receptive to new ideas. Many had questions, about the program, the XO, what the laptop can do, about squeak and much more.
2. Once they got the hang of using the application, they wanted more detailed (about scripting in squeak) examples.
3. Many wanted to know how they could improve themselves and what after that.
4. We provided a copy of squeak, our activities, and materials used in the workshop on a CD-ROM to each participant, and few took extra copies for their friends. This shows that a larger group of students might be interested in such events.
I also want to add that we intend to host a Game Jam every month for the next few months. We plan to have competitions during the jam where the winner will be decided by a panel of teachers, kids and government officials.
Bert answering questions.
Participants using squeak.