(Photo courtesy of Nick Madonna)
Over the course of five weeks this summer, 11 high schoolers from Philly public schools will learn how to build video games with local studio PHL Collective.
The GEAR UP Game Jam, which pulls its name from the game design hackathons held around the world, is a paid internship program for students, funded by the School District’s GEAR UP college readiness grant.
Run by the Urban League of Philadelphia and consulting company TriZen, it’s the first game design program offered by the Urban League, which has been running GEAR UP sessions for the past three years, said TriZen heads Tomeka Lee and Greg El.
In each weekly session, students will work with PHL Collective staff to learn every part of the game design process, including programming, art and music, said PHL Collective founder Nick Madonna. They’ll build non-violent games in Unity, a popular game development system, and use other free online tools to build the game, he said.
The Game Jam is another example of how local tech companies are pushing STEM education, and it’s notable how this effort is focused on public school students. Most recently, this summer, several members of the tech scene came out to support youth nonprofit TechGirlz.
“Things like this are part of our studio mission plan,” Madonna wrote in an email.
While the game jam began as a volunteer effort, the program expanded and PHL Collective is getting paid for its time, Madonna said.