Want to create games in your classroom? No idea where to start? Want to use a cool interface that is guaranteed to engage students aged 10 and up? Project Spark is going to change your world.
What is Project Spark?
In short, Project Spark is ‘the older brother of Kodu’ a games creation platform that supports student understanding of coding, games creation and ICT skill development. It runs on Windows 8.1 and soon to be on Xbox.
“Project Spark launched in beta six months ago, after being announced by Microsoft in 2013. It lets users design their own game worlds, create characters, and set up rules using if-then triggers. No programming knowledge is necessary, and it seems that users can create fairly complex games (including Tetris, Pinball and tower defense) with enough time and effort. Users have already created more than 70,000 game levels in the beta. - PC World
In short, Project Spark can used as games play experience, or a games creation experience.
How can I ‘play’ Project Spark?
Project spark is available for Windows 8.1 Users and soon it will be available on XBox One. While an Xbox login is needed, it can still be enjoyed to some degree without connecting to the Xbox world. (you can create but not save when not connected to your Xbox profile).
What skills do I need to create a game in Project Spark?
None. Project spark walks all players through a tutorial to get started.
When you begin Project Spark, there are three start modes to choose from.
- Create – Launch a new creation with just a little help to get you started
- Start from Scratch – Let your imagination fly with a powerful set of creation tools
- Learn to Create – Build a game step by step as you learn to use the creation tools. Youa re stepped through the processes to:
- Create a Hero
- Add an Enemy
- Make a Mountain
- Make a Path
- Create a goal
Below is a before and after of a 30 min session in the ‘Learn to Create’ tutorial. It’s amazing how easy it is to get started and create something you are proud of.
Do I always have to create something in Project Spark?
As well as making a game, you can also just play one of the games created by a member of the Project Spark Community. You can also take a created game and repurpose, make it better yourself.
When choosing play mode, the choice of ‘moderated content’ makes this a safe environment for young learners.
Why would I use Project Spark in my classroom?
While Project Spark might be seen as a non-educational platform, when we stop and consider some uses for the classroom, there are quite a number. To get started, here’s a few:
- Gaming and Games Design and Creation
- Writing Stimulus
- Geographic land formations
- Maker education
- ICT multimedia – animation
- Movie creation
- Historic re-creations
Why not ‘Choose your Own Adventure’?
In ‘Play’ mode there is a choice called ‘Crossroads: Play and Change a Game’ which is in essence a choose your own Adventure focus. This is wonderful for those new to games and coding.