My fourteen year old son has been obsessed with video games since he first played at a friend’s house when he was ten. My husband and I bought him a game console and a few games thinking that he would play for a while, but outgrow gaming fairly quickly, as he had with baseball, art classes, and volunteering at the local animal shelter. But fast forward four years and he was still going strong with his love of video games. We didn’t really like the idea of him sitting in front of a screen all day without having any real human interaction, but we also didn’t want to take away something he clearly loved. Was there a way to make gaming a more enriching experience? I decided to do some research on educational video games to see if there might be some options there, but he wasn’t interested in any of the available options. Then I came across Endless Studios.
A youth-centered game making studio, Endless Studios is a place where teens and young adults apprentice with game industry pros and other aspiring game makers to actually create video games. This sounded like something my son would really enjoy, and he would learn a lot in the process. The more I read about the Endless Studios Youth Game Academy, the more intrigued I became. I had never really thought about everything that goes into actually making a video game, and all of the skills you need in order to be a game developer. Storytelling, art and design, engineering and coding, project management, and cross-team collaboration. All great skills to have in the 21st century.
I asked my son if he was interested in the 6 week course and he was more excited than I’ve seen him in a long time. I enrolled him in the game design program, which included two classes a week, mentor feedback, weekend workshops, and access to the Endless Studios learning platform whenever he wanted. The syllabus was really thorough and I was excited to see what he would learn over the next month and a half.
When it came time for the course to start, my son was captivated. He sat in front of his computer during the first class, completely enthralled. At dinner, he couldn’t stop talking about game design, interaction in games, and gaming effects. We loved how engaged he was with the material, and that he was beginning to think more critically thanks to the discussions being facilitated in the course. We also liked that he was able to have virtual one-on-ones with mentors and industry pros who could help him flesh out his ideas and provide invaluable guidance. The small class size of 14 people also meant that he got personal attention and got to know the other students.
After the 6 week course, my son had the beginnings of a game and the methods to complete it. He also got really close with a number of his classmates and they’ve continued to stay in touch and work on their games. But I’ve also seen really positive impacts outside of gaming. I’ve seen improvements in my son’s communication skills as well as the planning and time management of his school work. He’s also become a better problem solver. Rather than giving up if he doesn’t know how to do something, he now thinks creatively about solutions and gets a lot of joy out of figuring things out on his own.
Whether or not he eventually decides to take these new skills and try to build a career in the gaming industry, this course is one of the best investments we’ve made for him. The ability to code, work effectively with teams, and manage projects with lots of moving parts will be invaluable skills for him to have as he heads into college and the real world. I cannot recommend Endless Studios enough, and I know my son would agree!