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TECC-East Video Game Designers Provide Edutainment

Students create educational and entertaining video games for other LISD students to learn with.

Lewisville ISD puts students in a position to create their own futures. But for the students at Technology, Exploration & Career Center East (TECC-E) in Video Game Design I, they are creating — and designing — a future for themselves and others.

Mr. Billy Carter teaches Video Game Design and Game Programming Design at TECC-E and the courses introduce students to basic programming and design skills needed to design, program, and create fully functional video games. No experience is needed either. In the two nine-week double-blocked classes, Carter teaches students everything they need to know in 18 weeks in order to create a video game from scratch.

In Game Programming Design taken during the first nine weeks, students first learn how to code and build their assets with 2D graphics, 3D modeling, and building audio, because most students have never been introduced to it before. They learn C# (C-Sharp) and how to use Photoshop for creating posters, textures, typography, and storyboards. Then they use Blender, a 3D modeling engine, to create their models. Once they have those skills mastered, it’s time to create their game in Video Game Design I over the next nine weeks.

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“What’s cool about it, at the end of the class, it’s a launch pad for other courses,” Carter said. “Students will say ‘I hated coding, that’s not for me, but I loved the 2D graphics’ and they can go take Graphic Design and Illustration. If they love to create the 3D models, they can go to the Animation Class. It opens more doors for them. They can take Video Game Design II and III, Web Game Development and Mobile Application Development. We have a lot of classes if this is the career path they want to take.”

Carter gives students the freedom to have any sort of theme for the games. His only rule is no violent video games are allowed. Carter says students are learning forms of math, physics, English language arts (ELA), engineering, computer science and also public speaking when creating and presenting their video games to the class. Carter also pointed out that students learn soft skills like deadlines, professional dressing during presentations, and working as a team. From start to finish, he adds that it takes around two weeks to design a game.

“When we started the program, I wanted to make sure that we were doing something not just that I graded, but something that was educational, entertaining, and taught a Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) that can go out to other schools [in LISD] to learn with,” Carter said.

This has led to LISD’s TECC-E Edutainment website – where students upload the video games they create that are educational and entertaining for the kindergartners in LISD to play and learn from. The website has four educational gaming categories: Math, Science, ELA, and Fine Arts. For example, one game that a student created called ‘Breakout of Letters’ teaches students the letters and order of the alphabet in a medieval castle setting where you have to go find all the letters of the alphabet in alphabetical order that are hidden throughout the castle. “I’m amazed at some of the games these students create and their creativity with their designs. The kindergartners love it. Their eyes and smiles get so big when they start playing,” Carter said.

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Andrea Davila is only a freshman at LHS Killough and she’s already excelling in the class after starting the year with no coding or game design experience. She took her love for art and animation and turned those talents into an award-winning video game. Davila’s video game, ‘Hello World!’, was recently voted by her classmates as Best Edutainment Video Game.

“I’m proud of learning to code,” Davila said. “At first, I didn’t get it and I thought I wouldn’t like it. I went and talked to my mom when I first started the class and told her ‘This might be difficult for me.’ She just encouraged me to try something new and work hard, so I’m glad I learned it and found something I can use my art with.”

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Marcus High School junior Joshua Higginbotham created a math game called ‘Math Ninja’ to help other students that are struggling with the subject. “I created this math game to help other kids have fun learning math,” Higginbotham said. “With the competitive nature of games, it helps you learn math better and understand math principles.”

For Hebron High School junior Micheal Coronado, he had no experience coming into Video Game Design I, but knowing he created a game that helps others learn makes him proud. “It definitely feels good to develop a game that helps other kids, especially knowing I have no background in game designing,” Coronado said. “It’s like a personal milestone for me to accomplish this.” Although Coronado doesn’t envision himself pursuing a career in video game design, he has other ideas on how he can use this skill in the future to still help others. “I think this would be more of a hobby for me in life. Who knows, maybe as I get older and have kids of my own, I can create games for my kids to learn with.”

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Students have created hundreds of games under Carter’s direction and leadership. At the end of each school year, with all he teaches his students, he hopes they can take away one thing from his class.

“The biggest thing for me, and I know it sounds cliché as a teacher, I just want the students to have a passion for something,” Carter said. “I see these students sitting there trying something and they are struggling. Then all of a sudden, I see a student fist pump after figuring it out. So, seeing them excited and passionate about an elective, that’s what I hope they take on with them is that passion for whatever they do in life.”

The mission of the Career and Technical Education (CTE) department in the Lewisville Independent School District is to provide a quality educational program that enables all individuals to achieve their fullest potential in the pursuit of high-skill employment and advanced education. Check out the CTE website or visit Best Schools in Texas for more information about joining the Lewisville ISD family.