E-Line Media and the Institute of Play announced today the launch of Gamestar Mechanic, a game-based learning platform that teaches the principles of game design as a form of 21st Century skill building in a highly engaging and creative environment.
Gamestar Mechanic was created through a unique public private partnership that includes leading foundations, non-profits, academia and the game industry. Development of the game was initially funded through a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to the Institute of Play. The game is being published by E-Line Media.
The Gamestar Mechanic platform taps into the natural passion of youth for playing and making games. The title helps them develop the technological, artistic, cognitive, social, and linguistic skills that they will need to thrive in the 21st Century, including: Systems Thinking, Critical Thinking, Problem Solving, Creativity, Collaboration and Digital Media Literacy. The game also provides a powerful motivation for learning critical STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) skills.
"The enthusiasm with which students embrace these complex concepts, when presented in the context of videogame creation, is truly remarkable," said Michael Angst, CEO, E-Line Media. "By tapping into the natural passions of today’s youth for playing and making games we believe we can help build a great motivation to embrace critical 21st Century and STEM skills."
Gamestar Mechanic features three, fully integrated components: Quests, with exciting adventure games that provide critical scaffolding for the core principles of game design; a Player Workshop, featuring easy-to-use drag-and-drop game creation tools; and Game Alley, a community where players can publish their games, discover, play and review the games of their peers and enter great game design competitions.
In addition to regular monthly game design competitions, many players in the Gamestar Mechanic community will also be eligible to enter two national game design competitions: the prestigious Scholastic Art and Writing Awards which recently added video games as a new design category and the National STEM Video Game Challenge recently announced by President Obama at the White House.
"Gamestar Mechanic has been designed from the ground up to be highly engaging and empowering for kids and truly effective for teachers; it is very much chocolate and peanut butter – not chocolate and asparagus," added E-Line President Alan Gershenfeld, who was formerly Senior Vice President at Activision Studios and Chairman of Games for Change.
The Gamestar Mechanic Platform features a comprehensive game design curriculum, designed by the Institute of Play, which can be used in a variety of informal and formal learning environments including schools, after-school programs, home schools, libraries, community centers, museums and camps. The flexible curriculum can be used for everything from a single session media lab activity to a semester-long game design elective.
Gamestar Mechanic has been rigorously piloted at dozens of schools and in after-school programs and with thousands of kids playing at home. The game has been the subject of two PhD dissertations assessing the learning impact of the platform and has been featured at dozens of educational conferences. The feedback has been very positive.
"Gamestar Mechanic is an amazing student-centered resource for schools that can be used as enrichment, as part of a media literacy course and to fulfill STEM objectives," says Danielle Ongart, teacher at New Heights Academy Charter School in New York City. "Gamestar helped to make my classroom a student-driven, collaborative environment where students felt like they were the experts!"
Gamestar Mechanic is browser-based (no download required) and runs on both PCs and Macs. The game features both free and premium tiers for both consumers and teachers. You can sign up at www.gamestarmechanic.com to get more details and begin designing your own video games!