It’s been an exciting weekend for a number of tech-oriented high school students. That’s because the Queen City High School Game Jam was held at Buffalo Game Space, 2495 Main Street. The Game Jam brought together professional and amateur gamers, techies, local professional game developers, computer programmers, artists, and musicians. These gamers helped with hands-on gaming initiatives that allowed over 40 high school students to immerse themselves into the world of game development and making. This was the region’s first High School Game Jam.
The Game Jam, hosted by Buffalo Game Space (a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding local game development in WNY), InfoTech WNY, WNY STEM Hub and AT&T, has a broader focus than just game development. First, the games were developed with a ‘social good’ angle in mind. Also, the applied educational experience gives the students a better grasp on technology that they might use to further themselves along a STEM career path. Currently one of the fasted growing job sectors is in STEM related fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics – STEM).
It is estimated by 2020 there will be 2.4 million unfilled STEM jobs with more than half made up of computer and coding careers.
The students were given a task to develop socially conscious video games within a 24-hour period, with the help of some of the most practiced hands in the region. Not only was the game jam free, the necessary tech resources were also provided to the students who hailed from Hutchinson Central Technical High School, City Honors School, Computing Academy of Technology Sciences at Bennett, Leonardo da Vinci High School, Wellsville High School and an all-female team consisting of members of the year-long It’s Your World! Develop It! Powered by AT&T coding program.
Ultimately, the Game Jam was open to students that might not otherwise have a chance to immerse themselves into such a tech gaming experience.
“AT&T is proud to have collaborate with these dynamic organizations to develop and support this innovative experience for students as it further enhances our commitment to providing resources for STEM-related educational programming throughout Western New York,” said Marissa Shorenstein, New York president, AT&T. “Our economy continues to transform at a robust pace – requiring a workforce with a focus on technological education and literacy – and STEM focused programs like this one are vital to ensure that the students of today are equipped to compete in the global innovation economy of tomorrow.”
“This provided a great opportunity for these students who might not normally have the resources or opportunity to learn how to develop a game, gain valuable skills or access to high-end equipment,” adds Buffalo Game Space President John Futscher. “Game development is a huge and growing industry. By offering this opportunity and benefits to students who can’t acquire them on their own, we’re helping them gain the knowledge needed to begin a future in one of the world’s largest technology sectors.”
“InfoTech WNY is honored to have been able to support The Queen City High School Game Jam in collaboration with AT&T and the Buffalo Game Space. We believe that it is important to engage high school students with real life projects and hands on activities that will help these students progress to build a better future.”
“While introducing girls to coding this summer through the AT&T powered It’s Your World! Develop It! project, we noticed that game development was high on their list of motivating coding projects,” said Dr. Michelle Kavanaugh, president, WNY STEM. “We are fortunate to be able to extend their experience at this game jam and the girls are excited to take part.”