Playing 4 Keeps

With early support from the Surdna Foundation, followed by the Microsoft Corporation and AMD, Global Kids established itself as an innovative leader in using online games to promote global awareness and engaged citizenship. Through the Playing 4 Keeps program, Global Kids trains urban youth to think critically about game design and develop games about important world issues using online games as a form of youth media. Through the Playing 4 Keeps Capacity Building Program, Global Kids trains other organizations, like libraries in New York City and computer labs in Boston-based public housing, to implement their own version of the program. In addition, youth in Global Kids programs often consult other organizations in their development of Games For Change, a term coined by the organization of the same name co-founded by Global Kids to promote the use of games by non-profits. Currently, Playing For Keeps is focused on supporting youth-led game design competitions, such as the National STEM Video Game Challenge and AMD Social Impact Challenge with E-Line Media and the Joan Ganz Cooney Center

iDesign Student Conferences 

On two Fridays in June, the OLP team ran Grow a Game workshops at Hofstra University's iDesign Student Conferences to cap off and celebrate a year of hard work at Long Island-based after school game design clubs. Pia Steffesan Adelphi University Community Fellow working with GK OLP for the summer, provides her reflections from the field:


The activity was designed to assist students, as well as adults, with having a creative game idea that also brings attention to a global issue.



After choosing a global issue they were asked to start visualizing their game with drawings and magazine cutouts. The activity was a success in creating multiple new game ideas, teaching awareness about global issues, and new perspectives on them.


Here you can see the hardworking students:



Our events were held in conjunction with the Whitehouse's "Week of Making" initiative, celebrating "the innovation, ingenuity and creativity of Makers." Check out our listing on the Week of Making website.


The OLP Team and the iDesign Team are excited to welcome teachers and students from their program for the upcoming teacher and student conference to look deeper into the Games for Change aspect of game design.

Middle Schoolers Showcase Games for Change 

This winter has been a busy one for the middle school game designers at Global Neighborhood Secondary School and New Directions Secondary School! Students finished using the tool Gamestar Mechanic to create games about a range of topics important to them -- from bullying to drug abuse, animal abuse, and pollution -- and then invited friends, teachers, Global Kids staff, and administrators to playtest them at an end-of-year celebration.


Middle school “MC’s” conquered their fear of public speaking and introduced the design process they followed in order to create the games. They detailed how students brainstormed, prototyped, and used Gamestar Mechanic and the iterative cycle to bring their games to life.




At Winter Playtest Expo events, Global Kids youth game designers at NDSS and GNSS asked their parents, teachers, GK facilitators, and friends for feedback on the games they created. 


In the new year, students in the game design clubs at these schools have begun to think like computer programmers. They have been diving into the tool Scratch to complete simple programs and animations, learning the basics of coding along the way.


In keeping with Global Kids’ mission to integrate global issues and ideas into the curriculum, students have been exposed to world current events and have expressed interest in creating a game this semester about women’s education/the kidnappings in Nigeria, the Ebola virus public health crisis, or the detention of undocumented immigrants in the United States.


In the coming weeks, youth will decide which topics to focus on, and the design process will begin all over again!


Special thanks to New Directions Secondary School, Global Neighborhood Secondary School, and the Global Kids trainers on-site at these schools.

Japanese Students Visit Playing 4 Keeps Citywide 

Last week, participants of Playing 4 Keeps Citywide had the pleasure of welcoming a group of Japanese students from Ochanomizu Women's University. Several P4K participants took on the role of student ambassadors, facilitating ice-breaker activities, giving presentations about various Global Kids programs, and fielding questions from GK participants and Japanese students regarding program activities. 




Then, students from Japan showed a video that they had made about their university, taking viewers on a virtual tour through its campus. Presentations were followed by a buffet-style dinner in which participants and the Japanese got to converse and get to know each other a little more over delicious Cuban cuisine.



After saying their farewells to their Japanese visitors, participants expressed great interest in hosting international visitors in the future. 

The Online Leadership Program's 2014-2015 School Year Middle School Kick-off!  

The Online Leadership Program (OLP) at Global Kids has kicked off its 2014-2015 school year with a bang at six middles schools around the Greater New York City area: the Global Neighborhood Secondary School in East Harlem; the Urban Institute for New Technologies in West Harlem; the Washington Heights Expeditionary Learning School; New Directions Secondary School in the Bronx; and Public School 109 and the School for Human Rights in Brooklyn.  



We are only in the month of October, and the OLP Team has already done some amazing activities with the middle school students.  For example, at Public School 109, kids "hacked" traditional games, like Rock, Paper, Scissors and other games like Turtle Wushu.  At the Urban Institute for New Technologies, kids delved deep into the lives of super heroes and villains! New Tech students drew their own super heroes and villains, giving them awesome powers and costumes, and even completed a super hero/villain Lego design challenge.  In this challenge, they were given classic storylines from the Incredible Hulk, Batman, and Wonder Woman, and represented them with the Legos.  New Tech students even practiced their facilitation skills by presenting their Lego design in front of their peers!  At the School for Human Rights, students are already starting to learn basic coding with the program Gamestar Mechanic.  They also participated in the coordinated nationwide action, "Box out the Barriers," in honor of the United Nations recognized International Day of the Girl.  With this activity, the School for Human Rights students learned all about barriers to a girl's access to education globally.  




The activities mentioned are just some of the awesome OLP activities happening at our middle schools.  Stay tuned for these updates!

Kicking Off P4K Citywide 2014-2015! 

We at Global Kids are excited to announce that last week we kicked off Playing for Keeps Citywide, our flagship game design program in which high school students from all over the city come to Global Kids headquarters once per week to learn about design concepts, play and analyze games, and learn basic coding. 


Students will create socially conscious games about issues that are culturally relevant to them and develop computational thinking and design skills in the process.


During our first session, students played and identified the elements of different types of games, including analog, mobile, and XBox games. In our next few sessions, we are looking forward to hacking playground games and engaging more deeply in the design process. 


Students played and analyzed games, like Jenga and Space Team, an intense multi-player mobile game in which players must work together to drive a virtual spaceship. 



Special thanks to Digital Ready for helping us reach out to our participants. 




New Year, New P4K Partnership! 

Last year, through the NYC Department of Education's Digital Ready initiative, students from Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School in the Bronx made the trek downtown weekly to participate in Global Kids' Playing for Keeps Citywide program.


This year, we are excited to announce that our partnership with Fannie Lou and Digital Ready has continued, and the 20-stop subway commute for Fannie Lou students has disappeared!


In a blended in-school / after school program taking place on site, students will explore topics that are culturally relevant to them, develop computational and iterative design process skills, and make connections to global issues, all while designing and coding an online game or detailed prototype of a game. Those who complete the program will be able to receive academic credit for their participation.
Youth game designers at Fannie Lou have already identified the elements of various games, made a list of reasons why they personally play games, and have created their own version of the playground game from China, Turtle Wushu.

FLH youth game designers strategize before a playtest of their new version of Turtle Wushu. In response to a design challenge to make the game more collaborative, the group added two teams to the game and changed the goal to ensuring the safety of the team's captain.

On the first day, students play the addicting, dimension-bending tablet game, Monument Valley, noting down the various elements of the game.
Special thanks to the Hive Learning Network for making the connection to Digital Ready, and to our partners at Digital Ready and Fannie Lou Hamer.

Youth Game Designers Shine at Emoti-Con 

This weekend, 16 students from 5 programs represented Global Kids at Hive's annual Emoti-Con youth digital media challenge!



Participants in GK's NYC Haunts program from the School for Human Rights and the High School for Global Citizenship showed off the location-based games they had made about local and global social issues.


Lyndon, Shavonne, and Jania of HSGC watch as a playtester at Emoti-Con tries out "Life as a First in the Field," their game about Jackie Robinson's experiences with racism and discrimination.


Playing for Keeps students from the Citywide program and at Global Neighborhood Secondary School presented games for change they had made using Scratch and Gamestar Mechanic.


Malak and Aya (right) from GNSS present their game to two students who said they could identify with the challenges faced by the player character, a young immigrant.


All of our students -- whether they came to present or just to be attentive, curious audience members -- truly shined.


Special shout out to Payton (a 6th grader) and Keron (an 8th grader) from School for Human Rights who impressed the judges with their presentations about the location-based game they made with their peers about gun violence, Keep Wingate Safe. They placed in the top 5 and stood on stage in front of over 200 people to talk about their work! They took away badges for Point of View and Most Social Impact.



We would like to thank all of the Global Kids trainers, the NYC Hive Learning Network, the Emoti-Con Steering Committee, and the judges, and keynotes who made this day possible.


Think, Design, Playtest, Change... CELEBRATE! 

By now, many of the middle schoolers at GK's Playing for Keeps program at Global Neighborhood Secondary School in East Harlem know the steps of the game design process: they've brainstormed ideas, drafted game design documents, made paper prototypes and flowcharts, tested out their ideas, and used the program Scratch to code their games or have used Gamestar Mechanic to design them. On June 3, there was one last step: show off!


Sixth, seventh, and eighth grade game designers came together to present their games for change to their classmates, teachers, and administrators at the school. As students discussed and discovered throughout the semester, while the video games they most often play are entertaining and fun, games can also convey social messages, demonstrate a point of view, and raise awareness about global and local issues.



Guests had a chance to check out students' formal presentations, could browse posters the students made about their games, and playtest the finished products (or in some cases, works in progress).



The Scratch games presented included "Journey of an Immigrant Kid" by seventh graders Malak and Aya, who themselves immigrated from Yemen and Egypt when they were younger. They used the game to explore a local angle on the issue of global migration. Their game stars a 12-year old recent immigrant who must navigate the school cafeteria, avoiding bullies who say negative comments about how she speaks English and the hijab she wears. She can boost her self-esteem by collecting positive comments.



Their classmate, eighth grader Mark, created a version of the game on Gamestar Mechanic which in many ways shadowed his own experiences arriving from the Philippines at the start of the school year. His game involves talking to intolerant classmates and educating them about immigration and immigrant rights. He included several facts that he had researched.



Check out Malak and Aya's game on Scratch!



Other games:

Don't get caught by the bullies by Max and Anthony

Animal Abuse game by Jenaya and Jojo


Global Kids is excited to continue our partnership with GNSS in the Fall, and can't wait to see what the students come up with next.


GK OLP Partners with Digital Ready Schools 

Since 2002, youth have worked with Global Kids staff and game designers to develop games that address global social issues. This year, we're broadening the reach of our signature Playing for Keeps program, as we partner with the Department of Education's Digital Ready initiative to use social impact game design to equip students at collaborating schools with the digital literacy and communication skills they need for college and careers.


Sean, of Hudson High School for Learning Technologies presents the user-persona he and his group developed during a recent P4K field trip to meet professional designers at the BrainPOP offices.


Students from three Digital Ready high schools -- Satellite Academy, Hudson High School for Learning Technologies, and Fannie Lou Hamer Freedom High School -- attend weekly workshops where they put game design vocabulary and concepts into practice using tools such as Gamestar Mechanic and Scratch. Students also conduct research on a topic they care about. As they create their games about global social issues, youth integrate STEM concepts they learn in the classroom into the iterative design process, learn to work as part of a team, and facilitate their own workshops.


Another group of P4K youth (including 2013 alum, and former BrainPOP intern, Kendell, and Satellite HS student, Garai) prep their presentation at the BrainPOP offices.


As part of the initiative, Global Kids is working with educators at the three schools to align Playing for Keeps curriculum to state learning standards; possibly allowing the 15 participating students to receive academic credit for creating their games and teaching others about game design back at their schools and at other venues. 


Students from Digital Ready schools take the game design engine, Scratch for a test drive.