By Jonathon Kaufman
Current perception points out San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Montreal are the places to be if you want to develop games. But Sacramento is quickly becoming a nerve center for gaming innovation. The city is culturally diverse, home of government, twin rivers, and, according to the ESA (Electronic Software Association), 25 game development studios including Electronic Arts.
We have a strong gaming community here in Sacramento with groups like Sac Dev Collective and the Sacramento Unity Users Group, and it is only getting better. I believe that within the next decade, Sacramento will be in the top five cities in North America that people talk about when they discuss games.
Next Level STEAM Education for Youthful Innovation
As an independent game developer in Sacramento, CA, a member of the Sac Dev Collective, and a member/organizer of the Sacramento Unity Users Group, I had a discussion earlier this year about what to do with school-aged kids over the summer. This discussion led to the idea of creating a game design camp for kids. But naturally the idea grew into why only run it during the summer–why not all year-round?
That’s when Sprite Tech Labs was born. Sprite Tech Labs is a nonprofit organization, dedicated to bringing STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) education to Sacramento.
Our goal is to bring these programs to all the communities in the greater Sacramento area.
Character Design: Kids Game Design Boot Camp
The first venture in #LevelUpSac, as we call it, is our Kids Game Design Boot Camp. Earlier this week, we started our first week-long camp, where kids learn not only skills for games including Game Design, Level Design, and a game engine, but skills that they can use in other areas, such as programming and rapid prototyping.
During the boot camp, kids also learn basic coding skills using the Game Maker Studio game engine. These coding skills can be transferred to all kinds of areas, such as engineering, software engineering, VR technology, and much more.
They also create their own games. At the end of the boot camp, the games they develop will be available for anyone to play. This quick development is called rapid prototyping. By creating games quickly, they develop problem-solving and design skills that can be used in many different industries.
What’s Next for Sprite Tech Labs
Our goal is to slowly add other programs, such as animation, VR technology, programming, and other STEAM related programs, that can be taught year-round. Through these programs, kids can participate and learn the skills that can help them jump-start their careers–and possibly help them decide what they want to do as they grow up. With this program we are–as they say in gaming terms–Leveling Up Sacramento youth and giving them skills they can use in the future.
For more information on Sprite Tech Labs, or to get details on future programs, visit: http://www.spritetechlabs.com/
About the Author: Jonathon Kaufman is an independent game developer with a degree in Game Art and Design from the Art Institute of California, Sacramento. He is a co-founder of Sprite Tech Labs, an organization dedicated to educating young people in the art of game development. He’s passionate about sharing his knowledge and growing Sacramento into a future game hub for game developers to live, work and create. Jonathan lives in West Sacramento with his wife, Ashley Christman, 14-month-old son William, two dogs, Rigby and Bela, and a cat named Oliver.