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NYC Haunts - The Point and The Brooklyn Museum 

NYC Haunts is hitting the halfway mark at two new locations! One is in partnership with the Hunts Point based community development corporation, The Point, where students are exploring the humanitarian possibilities of game design by unearthing forgotten local history. The other finds the OLP team with our partners at the Brooklyn Museum on the hunt for its collection's haunted treasures. Two very different tasks, two talented groups of students.


Here are some highlights from the first half:


Both groups got started by playtesting a previously made local game to get a feel for Taleblazer. Students at The Point got competitive and the games were well received...



Next, both groups visited the potential locations of their games. Visiting the Drake Park burial ground in Hunts Point raised interesting questions about how to respect difficult subject matter using an entertainment focused medium. The concept of games for change was explored and will be central to the students' work at The Point.



Students at the Brooklyn Museum had a lot to choose from when it came to spooky exhibit spaces. Possible haunts included the Schenck Family period Houses and Judy Chicago's Dinner Table. However, an almost unanimous vote set our sights on the visible storage lockers, which (literally) gave students the chills.



With our locations in mind for inspiration, the teams moved on to learning game elements and brainstorming story ideas. As new concepts surfaced, research got increasingly in-depth and brought weight to the students continued discussions. Judy Perry, Research Manager and one of the developers of the TaleBlazer software we use to build our location-based games, came down from Massachusetts Institute of Technology to visit with our students and support them during the brainstorming process.



At The Point, students learned of the forgotten slave burial ground. As we read the personal stories of New York's former slaves, connections were made to incidents of modern trafficking. The team became invested in giving a voice to their characters.



The Brooklyn Museum team got creative with a creepy story about the ghost of a runaway girl named Helen. Programming is underway and our final playtest for both teams is around the corner!



Special thanks to the Hive Learning Network, the Brooklyn Museum, the Point CDC the New York Community Trust, and the New York Public Library for their support of this project.


One Week Challenge! NYC Haunts at Exposure Camp 

This summer, Global Kids is teaming up with three Hive Learning Network partners around New York City to run Global Kids' signature location-based game program, NYC Haunts. As we serve diverse populations and adjust to new settings, we are also stretching, growing, and adapting our curriculum to prepare for a roll-out of the program across multiple Global Kids school sites in the Fall.


The first stop was Exposure Camp, a program that guides teenagers from the Mt. Vernon and north Bronx areas to create and program their own digital content.


Alora Cholette, an Adelphi University Community Fellow working with GK OLP for the summer, provides her reflections from the field:


Efficiency was the name of the game at Exposure Camp. Students were faced with the challenge of designing a location-based game in just one week! Boy did they step up to the task.



Taking inspiration from their own experiences and those of local idols, the students created a game about a young boy named Patrick. Newly arrived to Mt. Vernon, Patrick is afraid to explore the area because of rumors he's heard about its reputation. However, he has dreams of becoming a famous rapper, which aren't going anywhere with him stuck inside.


Suddenly, the ghost of Mt. Vernon hip hop artist, Heavy D, appears and sends Patrick on a journey to get to the local festival Arts on 3rd. On the way, Patrick has to help other Mt. Vernon celebrities in order to collect Heavy D's song lyrics, which talk about the pride the rapper has in his neighborhood.



In order to make the game, the students kept up an energetic pace for 5 days of intensive game design. We started by brainstorming basic elements, which developed into interesting in-depth conversations about how perceptions from outside can effect how we see ourselves from within a culture.


Specific topics came up as we explored the neighborhood and researched its history. The students wanted to focus on how a game could be used to improve their surroundings.



Once the idea of local entertainers and artists became our focus, we moved on to testing paper prototypes, and coding the final product. 


Creativity was in the air and their level of engagement within the tight timeframe was impressive and a joy to be a part of!



Special thanks to the Hive Learning Network, Exposure Camp, the New York Community Trust, and the New York Public Library for their support of this project.


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.


Playtesting Haunts 2014 Treks 

You don't need a time machine to experience the past. That's what students at the High School for Global Citizenship and the School for Human Rights found out this semester as they created their own location-based games for GPS devices that drew on local history and made connections to larger global issues, such as protection of the right to equality before the law, as stated in Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Stroll down to the housing complex across the street from Jackie Robinson School in Crown Heights with your cell phone or tablet and load up the TaleBlazer app. By playing the student-produced game, you'll learn that if you were at that spot five decades ago, you would have seen Ebbet's Field-- the Brooklyn Dodgers home baseball field where Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball. Playing as Jackie Robinson, you'll be faced with racist, dehumanizing situations as you visit all four bases of the baseball diamond and attempt to score a home run. You must make decisions in character. As is noted in the game, Jackie Robinson is just one of many who faced discrimination on the basis of race over the years. Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights protects people around the world from such unlawful treatment by ensuring that "all are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law." 

On the day of the final playtest, student game-designers presented their game in front of their peers and staff from Global Kids and the Brooklyn Public Library.
They discussed game play, the game design process, and some of the challenges they faced in designing the game.