In this project we take a look at the blessing of technology and consider how that blessing might be used to spread the truths of the Bible and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Through the use of projects and games I invite you to help in the process of making this a reality.
This will be a collaborative presentation. In doing the research for appropriate age level game programs and game engines, it soon became evident that I would not have enough time to create a project with each and all the resources available. We will start in this presentation with some foundations, and I invite you to work with me throughout the duration of this conference's discussion period to help each other build portfolios of ideas, plans, games and projects.
First we look at the concept of creating projects and games that will not only be a learning experience for each of us, but will in the end provide learning experiences for others. The following guidelines for game or project design should help us get started.
- Game/project design is deciding what a game should be and for us what learning will take place.
- There is no simple formula that shows us how to make good games/projects.
- Good game/project design happens when you view your game from as many perspectives as possible. (This is the purpose of this presentation.)
- Good design comes from thinking outside the box, exploring new concepts even though the traditional rules work and are comfortable to use.
- Listen to those who would be learners and users of the game.
- Create a map of design relationships. Look at how the objects of the game will interact to make the game innovative and successful.
- Game/project design is a continuing process.
- Learn to think. To paraphrase Confucius — "Every game/project has four corners: as a presenter I give you one corner, and it is for you to find the other three."
Consider the following as we get started:
With the Lord begin your task; Jesus will direct it.
For His aid and counsel ask; Jesus will perfect it.
If your task is thus begun With the Savior's blessing,
Safely then your course will run, Naught your soul distressing.
For those of you having the certainty of Jesus in your life, this becomes a daily prayer that reminds us that the skills and learning we bring to this conference are a blessing and supported by the One in control of our lives. For those of you less certain about the presence of Jesus in your life, I hope that this conference and sharing Biblical messages through creating games and projects will strengthen you as you share the knowledge of Jesus with others.
The Skills a Game Designer Needs
Anything that you can be good at can become a useful skill for a game designer. I have listed some of the big ones in a supplemental document — Skills a Game Designer Needs. No one person can master all of these. That is why game/project programming is normally a team effort. Not appearing on the list, but the most important, is the skill of listening. That is not just hearing words but a deeper, thoughtful listening that will drive the creativity and communication of the project. There are five listening categories to consider: Team — Audience — Game — Client — Self We will consider four of these.
Our Four Listening Categories
- Team — The makeup of the team for this presentation is all who attend, contribute to the discussion, and collaborate in the activities presented. Each will have a voice in the final results at the end of the conference.
- Audience — These are the users of the games and projects we will complete. Is the true message of the Gospel evident in each game/project for an appropriate age level? What method do we use to hear from them?
- Game — The message we get from the game is in the testing. As we test the game is it playable, user friendly, challenging, and does it deliver the Gospel message in such a way to encourage the player to want more?
- Self — I need to think outside the box and listen to my misgivings and discount any that might keep me from being creative and innovative in this changing world of technology.
Items for Corner #1
Resources: One does not need a computer to create or use a game/project. For our purposes, we will use the computer and the technology available to us to create and share games/projects that will provide a learning environment for sharing the Gospel message.
- PowerPoint — This provides a simple method of creating and linking slides to create a successful learning game for young children. Develop in Microsoft Office, create a link and share.
- Scratch — A drag-n-drop interface that allows for importing images and applying ready-made script to provide animations in a 2-D game project. Get a free download here. An e-book Getting Started Guide is available for download at the official site.
- Kodu — A Microsoft product that provides easy tools to create elaborate 3D landscapes, and control the lighting and camera. Free download here. A Kodu Classroom Kit is available for download on the official site.
- Game Salad Creator — A 2D drag and drop interface that allows you to create completely original games and applications. Images and sounds can be imported into the project. A combination of Rules, Behaviors, and Attributes jointly define how a project operates. You can download a free e-book manual. There is a free trial, then subscription is $17/month paid annually.
I invite conference participants to add to this list.
Images and Assets
- Gimp — This image management software is easy to learn. One is able to cut and paste images from a photo or picture and create sprites which can be used in the game/project software. It is a powerful, open source program and excellent documentation is available.
Find it here.
There are very few Christian sprites available, so we create our own.
Here is an example of an image selected and copied in a new window in Gimp where it is prepared by deleting the background layer and then exported into a folder of Sprites for a project. The white background color that still exists around the image will be erased with a finer and finer erase tool brush.This camel will be used in a nativity project where children can manipulate the images to develop the nativity scene as the Christmas story is read from Luke 2.
- Inkscape — This is an open-source professional vector graphics editor. This drawing program lets the user create and manipulate objects in the same way as Gimp or PhotoShop. It allows for originality in creating objects, and is an excellent program for creating backgrounds for 3D games/projects. There is a free download.
On the Inkscape site look for Inkscape, A Guide to a Vector Drawing Program, 4th Edition under the Help menu.
- Blender — This is the go-to open source software for developing objects for 3D game/project programming. When using a game engine to develop a 3D game, finding the right 3D object can prove to be very expensive. So we look to building our own objects, which in our case may be the only way to find objects that meet the criteria of our game/project maps. There are very few, if any, biblical 3D objects to be found on the internet, either free or for a fee. Get Blender by a free download, and check the online User Manual in wiki format, updated daily.
Mapping the Game
- Identify a Bible truth or Bible story to share in a game or project environment.
- Create a storyboard to visualize the game or project.
- Determine the level of the audience (age range)
- Choose the software that will maximize the experience.
- Determine the level of presentation to the identified audience.
- A completed "You Win" game.
- Interactive participation that generates a variety of successful attempts.
- Interactive participation that allows the player to help build the game.
- Determine the resources needed to illustrate or demonstrate the Bible truth or story.
- Software to be used
- Types of objects needed
- Internet search for free objects that illustrate the theme.
- Create Sprites from clip art and images that can be imported into the game.
- Design the layout and levels of the game or project (is it a linear learning experience or does the player move up when successful?).
APPLY THE FOUR LISTENING STRATEGIES OFTEN!
Let's Map Some Games/Projects
- Bible truths or Bible stories
- Audience to be served
- Appropriate game venue
- Resources needed
- Game layout and levels
Example 1: Jesus Loves Me (Sample completed)
- Ages 5-10
- PowerPoint Game
- Resources: Microsoft PowerPoint; Jesus Loves Me song text; Pictures to illustrate the theme of each slide; Audio of Jesus Loves Me
- Linear learning experience
Example 2: The Nativity (Sample a Work in Progress)
- Ages 5-10
- Scratch Software
- Resources: Scratch software; 2D objects of the Nativity scene; Audio of the First Christmas from Luke 2;
- Linear learning experience; the scene is complete at the same time that the audio is finished.
Example 3: Creation (To be created during the conference)
- Grades 1-6
- Game Salad Creator
- Resources: List of the 6 days of creation; 2D objects illustrating each day of creation; Audio background music;
- Levels of learning experience
- Story board required
Example 4: Epiphany — The Wise Men (To be started during the conference)
- Grades 6-12
- Unity game engine
- Resources: Unity and Blender software; 3D objects of three wise men; 3D Star; 3D background of the Nativity; Audio of Epiphany music
- Levels of learning experience
- Story board of the game an important piece for this one
Conference attendees' ideas are encouraged and welcome! Mapping their ideas will take priority.
This is the link to my simple, completed PowerPoint for young children. Let me know if you can access it.
Here is another link to a project I have started in the software "Scratch." You may have to enable Flash to work with it. I am in the process of developing the 2D characters that I will need to create a simple animated Nativity scene. Since it is shared, others may add to the characters. Each figure exists in a free page of Nativity characters. I then copy each character into Gimp and remove the background so that the character exists as a 2D game object. Let me know if you can open it in your browser.
I have provided Corner #1. Now it is up to you and me to spend time over the next weeks to work on corners #2 - #4 and get a project going. Choose a theme (Bible Story or Bible Truth) and map it out for an appropriate age level, using appropriate software. You will add to your programming skills as you do this while building on your knowledge of Jesus. This knowledge opens the opportunity for the Holy Spirit to grow faith in your hearts. May God bless our efforts and our learning.
[ Here is another resource, especially for children, referred to us by Mae Tacke: From Dabbling to Doing: 6 Tools That Excite Kids About Coding ]
[ Listen to a 10-minute interview with Mae Tacke about her presentation, conducted by Andy Bates on KFUO-AM radio on his "Faith 'n' Family" program, September 28, 2016. Audio courtesy of Worldwide KFUO. ]
Return to original language with "show original" button at top left.