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Thirty-six students sit in groups around computer screens, maneuvering level by level through the latest video game.

This is not a weekend party for gamers. These teenagers are part of the software and game design course taught by Clinton Gadbury at Des Moines Central Campus.

And this latest video game? It hasn’t even hit the shelves yet. It is created by students as they learn.

The course, now in its second year, is part of the school’s technology and systems integration program, which also includes courses in network administration and application development.

Gadbury students work for a company designing simulated video games. They receive bogus emails from bosses and mentors and have carte blanche to create games as long as they meet the client’s needs and goals.

The last group project, lasting two months, consists of creating an “edutainment” game for students from kindergarten to high school. Students will submit their final games in a spring competition hosted by curriculum developer CTe Learning.

“A lot of students play games at home and are ‘gamers,'” Gadbury said. “But they haven’t necessarily realized how difficult it is to put together a game. Now they see how difficult it is to just put a red circle in the middle of the screen.

Students learn about the design process, coding and music generation while creating their 3D video games.

Jordan Ritter, a Hoover junior, hadn’t had formal coding training before the course, but now plans to pursue it as a college major.

“My part in my band’s project is to focus on coding,” Ritter said. “Coding is fun for me. In fact, the last game I coded had 3,000 lines of code. It’s something I do in my free time. »

The game he helped develop in the fall invited players to pick up fruit for a drink. The more fruit collected in a limited time, the higher the player’s score increases.

“I created a cheat code to unlock levels so you can get to any level you want,” he said. “It’s just a fun thing I did to myself.”

Hoover’s group senior Fiyin Aregbe is working on a game for 13-19 year olds. His role is to draw the game design and write a short story summarizing the plot.

Ryan Day, a junior from Lincoln, is working on a game for second through fourth graders that aims to improve players’ spelling skills.

“I played a lot of video games when I was little,” he said. “I wanted to know how they were actually made.”

Day plans to take Central Campus’ Mobile Application Design course next year and pursue a career in aviation. When he visited the Central Campus Aviation Building and tried out the flight simulator, he realized he could combine his love of flying and coding to create realistic flight simulators for educational purposes. . He now plans to minor in coding in college.

Gadbury said students can walk into his course knowing nothing about coding and come away with a usable portfolio. Students can also earn a DMACC credit for career exploration and another for creating a digital portfolio.

About this series

The Des Moines Registry reviews some of the unique courses—from auto body repair to robotics—offered at the Des Moines Central Campus. The school attracts 1,500 students from 29 central Iowa school districts who take courses in 30 vocational and technical areas and 35 advanced courses not available at most traditional high schools.

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