Not everyone appreciates video games, and no one understands that more than year 9 gaming boys. For the last two terms I’ve had the pleasure of running the Game On critical and creative thinking course with 20 committed gamers. This time the gamers all happened to be boys. We’ve done some cool stuff – designing games with Gamestar Mechanic, filming game reviews and designing board games. We’ve also played a lot of Counterstrike 1.6.
In order to celebrate the boys’ love of gaming – and their awareness that gaming has a bad rep in some quarters, typically with teachers and parents – we decided to run a video game appreciation day at school. We named it VGAD for short.
The boys decided that they wanted admission to be competitive with students having to compete in gaming-related competitions in order to earn an invitation to the event. They were responsible for choosing, planning and running these competitions, as well as advertising the VGAD event and organising how it would run on the actual day.
Two weeks before VGAD we had over 70 students apply to attend. Only 30 invitations would be handed out. The week before VGAD the boys ran three competitions – Minecraft Build Challenge, Halo Grifball and Counterstrike 1.6 5v5. Each gamer had to earn a total of 50 points in order to earn an invitation to VGAD. For three lunchtimes we had two classrooms full of gaming – it was chaotic but awesome. Adding up all the points, deciding on the winners and getting the invitations out was a big job, and a great learning experience for the boys.
Last Tuesday was VGAD – two periods of gaming, Doritos and Mountain Dew. We had 50 students (48 boys and 2 girls) in the library playing Halo, Counterstrike, Minecraft, board games made by students (the teachers likely enjoyed these more than the kids) and generally having a great time to a backdrop of pretty loud music.
By then end of VGAD I had heaps of students asking me if we could do it again next year. That’s a win in my opinion. I hope it continues at Davo, but I’m likely to bring it with me to my new school. I think it’s super important for adults, especially in schools, to value video games and the knowledge and skills our students have.