Nine Sixth Graders Make Plants VS Zombies Clone
I grew up a huge Capcom fan. I had nearly every game the house of Mega Man released, and I credit Street Fighter II as one of the games that solidified my place in gaming culture for life. But it wasn’t enough for me to simply play games; I began designing my own games with pencil and paper. After I had what I thought was a solid idea and some concept art, I would stuff my heartfelt creations in a large envelope and send it off to Capcom in hopes of seeing one of my ideas come to life.
I was too young at the time to know that Capcom was legally obligated to not look at my work, so I blindly sent more and more game ideas. Maybe if pursuing a career in video game development while I was growing up was as widely accepted as it is today I would have had the foresight to take the necessary steps in making my childhood dream a reality.
Now, there are post-high school institutes such as DigiPen and Full Sail that are dedicated to molding the future of game development, but why can’t video game education begin much earlier. Extracurricular activities like sports or band start in the sixth grade for most schools, so this could also be a good time to add game development as an option.
Pioneering that exact sentiment is Mr. Bobby Morales of Sun Ridge Middle School in El Paso, Texas. During the day he teaches 6th grade science and social studies, but for a couple hours after school he helps guide a group of nine imaginative kids through their first foray into video game development. Besides wanting to share his love of video games with the next generation in a unique way, Mr. Morales “wanted to provide middle school students with an opportunity to gain skills not normally acquired in middle school.” Unfortunately, it was easier said than done.
The administration at the previous school Mr. Morales taught at made it difficult to create the class due to their unmotivated lack of support – they didn’t see it as a viable path of education. Although he tried very hard to get the class going, he was ultimately forced to file away his idea and revisit it later.
When Mr. Morales started teaching at a new school, he chose to introduce his ambitions to a new audience. His second year at Sun Ridge Middle School proved to be the perfect time to yet again pursue the creation of a game making class. With the full support of the principal, Bobby Morales got the green-light to start recruiting students for his dream class.
After much deliberation the kids decided to make an 8-bit Plants VS Zombies clone called Students VS Zombie Teachers. How appropriate, don’t you think?
When I was invited to view what they were working on, I was pleasantly surprised to see how devoted and organized they were – everyone had their own specific role in the creation of their game. The only two girls to sign up were responsible for the story and level design, while the boys had the duty of making the character sprites, levels, and coding using a rather deep program called Game Maker 8.1 Lite.
I had a chance to see some of the storyboards the girls were working on, and all I have to say is that I’m thoroughly impressed with their imagination. The story they came up with is worthy enough to become a Saturday morning cartoon. Seriously.
What’s the story, you ask? Well, you’ll just have to wait until they finish their game at the end of the school year. Keep checking back with us because we’ll have updates as they progress, and when Students VS Zombie Teachers is complete we will be hosting it right here on Unjadeable for everyone to download and enjoy.