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Gamers invade Hill Country Science Mill in mission for the future

JOHNSON CITY — If you think your kid is wasting their time playing that “silly” video game, well, you might be surprised at the possibilities open to them.

At least that’s what Alicia Andrews, founder and creator of Game Worlds, would like you to consider. Game Worlds is an Austin-based camp and after-school program that gives kids a chance to explore game development. And on May 7, Andrews will load up her crew and head to the Hill Country Science Mill for a day of gaming fun.

And a little more.

“Kids are naturally intuitive. They naturally play with games and want to learn, but you just have to give them a project that shows them a purpose to what they’re learning,” Andrews said. “If you teach a kid physics but don’t show them how it applies to anything they do, well, they don’t typically learn physics very well that way.”

But, she went on, if you wrap that physics concept into creating and building a game or even a smartphone application, then they not only learn it, it sticks with them.

Game development is a great way for kids to explore different aspects of science, technology, engineering, art and math. It’s about having a project in which to learn STEAM concepts and ideas.

“It’s easy to teach kids if they have a project,” Andrews said. “Games are a great way to do that. Kids play games. It’s part of their culture. So, if you go to them, ‘You know your favorite game? Here’s how they created it.’ And then they get interested in learning.

“Kids, and adults, really learn best when they have a project or something they’re working on,” she added.

The 11 a.m.-3 p.m. event at the Science Mill, 101 S. Ladybird Lane, gives kids a taste of game development, but mostly it’s a chance for the youth to meet professional game developers, 3D animators, illustrators, programmers and graphic artists.

Oh yeah, and play games.

“We’ll spend the first part talking about our summer camp, but the rest of it’s different games, even board games,” Andrews said.

The Game World crew is bringing game equipment for kids to try out. There will be “Super Smash Bros.” and “Magic The Gathering” tournaments from noon-1:30 p.m. Also, “Board Game Blitz!” is noon-3 p.m. and free game play is 1-3 p.m.

Even kids who aren’t really looking at game development in their future can learn skills that would apply in any number of careers, Andrews said.

Games just wrap them all - including art - into a nice, fun package.

The event is included in the regular Hill Country Science Mill admission fee. Admission is $6.50 for ages 2-18 (no charge for kids under 2); $8 for adults; and $6 for adults 65 and older and military members.

Go to sciencemill.org for more information on the Hill Country Science Mill. Go to gameworldscamps.com for more information on Game Worlds.

Even if kids can’t attend one of the Game Worlds camps, Andrews said those interested in game development should still reach out to the Game World staff.

“I have a list of resources that can help them when it comes to game development,” she said. “One of the reasons we do this is because we want to help the next generation of game designers. We didn’t have things like this or resources on game design when we were just starting out in this. We want to support and encourage the kids who are thinking about gaming and game design and development.”

daniel@thepicayune.com

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