Blog: Bright Ideas

Behind the Major: Mobile Game Design

Summer’s just around the corner, and there’s so much to be excited about: new friends, new opportunities to fail fearlessly, and at Galileo Summer Quest, an all-new Mobile Game Design major. We sat down with Lance Akiyama, Galileo’s science curriculum manager, to learn more about this latest innovation.

What do you love about the Mobile Game Design major?

Have you ever thought, "Wouldn't it be amazing/hilarious/so much fun if that game existed?" Well, you get to make that game! For example, while the curriculum team was practicing a brainstorming activity for Mobile Game Design, we came up with the idea of Hangry Pirates*. Imagine: the goal of the game is to feed a bunch of hangry (hungry+angry) pirates healthy foods so they don't get angry. We've all been there, right? It's a really funny idea, and I needed to test the software, so I made it a reality. That's what's great about this major.

What are you most excited about for this major?

The Mobile Game Design curriculum was written by another team member, and I was excited to test and refine it. Since I don’t spend a lot of time coding or writing programs, the thought that I would create a mobile app within a couple of days seemed about as plausible to me as creating a masterpiece painting. However, bit by bit, as I followed the lessons made by our tech curriculum writer, I quickly developed a competency that I didn't think was so attainable. It was thrilling to finish the game, step back, and realize, "Whoa, I actually made that!" I’m excited for campers to have similar realizations as they build new skills and design games they’re excited about.

What's new to this major this year?

This is the first year that our video game design major is going mobile! We’re also using brand new software, Construct 2, which is a very user-friendly programming tool. All the code is very visual and simply written, so it's easy to learn and understand your code.

What will be the most exciting thing for campers? The most challenging?

The most exciting and challenging thing will be getting the code to work as intended. It's tricky to think like a computer. You can't just say "get food when the bird bumps into an apple." You need to define what "food" is, set up a collision event between the bird and the apple, and specify how the player knows they collected food. It's all very literal. But once you get the hang of it, and your code starts working the way you want, it's incredibly gratifying.

How will campers practice the Galileo Innovation Approach in this major?

Campers will inevitably practice all five Innovator's Mindsets, but the part of the GIA that I'm most excited for in this major is the create-test-evaluate-redesign part of the process. Throughout the week, campers will get to playtest their games with other people in the classroom, just like real game developers! It's so fun to see people figure out the game you've made, and it provides valuable feedback that you can use to improve your work.

* We can’t wait to see all the games campers develop this summer—and the innovation skills they'll build in the process. Want an early look at what’s in store? You can sneak a peek at Lance's sample game, Hangry Pirates. Here’s how to play:

  • You are the pirate's loyal pet parrot.
  • The pirate is getting hangry (the red meter)!
  • Use the arrow keys on your screen or keyboard to collect fruit to fill up the food meter (blue meter).
  • Transfer food to the pirate by bumping into him.
  • Hang in there for 60 seconds until the giant orange appears, then collect and give it to the pirate to win.
  • Don’t let the red meter fill up before the time runs out, or else you’ll be left with a hangry pirate.