We do more than just teach game design skills here. VGDC is a place to understand yourself and others and to be a DESIGNER. There is no greater gift to a child or adult than to come to the belief that you can and should create things. Inside each one of us a story. At VGDC, we encourage you to be brave enough to tell it.

WHO CAN COME?

Kids ages 10 to 18 can attend. We prefer the child be interested in game design. Parents who simply want them to do “more than play games” will find that this is NO game. Game design is fun, but not like a video game is fun. There is work involved.

The types of youth who excel here are those who like builder games or you find them making things they weren’t asked to make, daydreamers, doodlers, coders, writers, kids who struggle to “stay in the lines.” This is the place they can find others who enjoy the same creative energy.

WHAT IS YOUR AVERAGE MONTH AT THE CLUB LOOK LIKE? WHAT WILL MY CHILD LEARN?

First of all, they will learn what they want to learn and earn what they want to earn.

As a parent you choose 3 sessions for them to come that month. Every night is the same content for that month. Each session builds on your last. You can also work on stuff at home between sessions.

Each month has an activity we do as a group (not a group activity) called Project Badges. It is what we do from 6pm to 7pm. It might be building 3D models or making an animation or designing a level. If a member completes specific requirements, they can earn the badge for that month. 

We do NOT give badges for participation. They must complete the requirements. It’s never hard but we don’t reward goofing off. You are paying money for them to be here, we respect that. Yet, we believe you learn when you earn.

During the second hour, the member can continue to work on the first hour activity or move on to Game Designer Skills. This is a self-paced progress of skills mapped out on a skill tree. This lets a member build a foundation of all key principles of game design, allowing them exposure to wide variety of experiences. It is all hosted on the site so they can work on it here or bring it something they worked on at home and got stuck on. Those who work on the Skills at home get the most out of the Club.

All members will receive this poster to keep track of their progress at home on their wall. This helps encourage them to work on things at home as well. When they show they have completed a Skill Block, they will get an official Check sticker to place on that section.

TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

Our classes focus on building basic skills through hands on experience. We don’t just show how it’s done. We do NOT line them up and make them all build the same thing. We do not grade or rank their work. THIS IS NOT A SCHOOL, IT IS A CLUB.

Each student will have a computer to interact and copy our instructions. After the class, we want to impart the following skills at their own pace:

-A basic understanding of coding principles: if/then statements, etc.
-The power of planning out a concept and following steps to execute
-Graphical design of characters, sprites, and other objects
-Introductory knowledge of real professional design softwares
-Gradual progression into higher difficulty tasks at a customized pace

This may seem like a lot for children and young adults but we use industry-leading, proven software to teach them and can adjust specific goals to the progression of each designer. I can’t express how excited I am to see their faces when they press execute and play a game they made, it’s simply magic!

LOCAL ENTREPRENEUR & NERD

I’m Carl Holden, the owner and creative director of Zellus Marketing of Huntsville. I’ve been building websites, modding and creating games, and other general geekery for over 10 years. I also have two years of assistant teaching in an elementary school, camp counselor jobs when I was younger, and four years of church youth leadership. While I love my marketing job, another great passion I have is for teaching. In many ways, I miss being in education.

I believe that if we want Huntsville to be a tech city outside of just government contracting, we have to start in the right place. With VGDC, I think we can start a trend that gets our pre-teens and teens interested in coding and other tech skills. They are our workforce in less than ten years! There’s so many children wasting their creativity on just playing games. There’s no cooler feeling than MAKING a game and watching others play it.

When your kid walks joins our class, I want her or him to brag, “Hey, I became a video game designer!”

SUPPLIES NEEDED FOR THE CLUB

Every designer will be required to bring their own laptop, headphones, and USB mouse.
(AND PPE for COVID19 safety.)
 
If you already have a laptop, the short answer is if it can play Minecraft smoothly without problems, it will be a good one to start with.
If you are looking to buy, laptops in the $500 to $800 range are more than sufficient.
Requirements-
  • It must run Windows or MacOSX. No Chromebooks or Android Notebooks.
  • Try to keep screen size comfortable 12.5+ inches as they will be reading, watching, and typing.
  • Pentium i3 is ok but Pentium i5 or i7 is preferred
  • 6 GB RAM minimum
  • 256 GB memory minimum.
  • Onboard graphics card
  • Headphones and USB mouse
Here’s some possible examples. You don’t have to buy these specific ones but they help you understand what one might look like.

https://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=ENE&IsNodeId=1&N=100006740&LeftPriceRange=400%20800

Don’t spend $1200+ on a big gaming laptop! It doesn’t need to be top of the line and we are not liable for damage to expensive computers.

Taken care of, a laptop like one of these could last years. If you want tech support/warranty, showing someone these specs at Best Buy might be a good idea as well.