Students Complete Video Game Designs in New Elective


Courtesy of Timothy McElroy

Senior Sofie Tepperman designed the arcade-style game “Rainstorm,” where players have to avoid falling raindrops and moving puddles in order to “stay alive” for the full 60 seconds.

Sofie Tepperman, Guest Writer

“Who wouldn’t want to have a period playing video games?” asked junior Daniel Oppenheimer, a student in Game Design, a new full-year elective at the high school.

Game Design students study game components, animation and development, and they have ample opportunities to play games and even create some of their own.

The course begins with lessons about board game basics and the true definition of “entertainment.” Both sections of the class even took a field trip to Morristown Game Vault to try out classic video games like “Space Invaders” and “Pac-Man” as well as dozens of pinball machines.

Timothy McElroy, who teaches Game Design, explained that his goal for the class was to build upon students’ prior knowledge of basic computer programming and start small with arcade-style game design. “The Microsoft ‘MakeCode Arcade’ website allows us to do just that,” McElroy explained. “ ‘MakeCode’ provides the programmer with premade templates of code, but the creativity is endless.”

The endless creativity was apparent in the students’ game creations, which they began designing in November. Oppenheimer chose to recreate Google’s existing “Dino Run” game, while sophomore Basil Kaminski took his inspiration from preexisting games like “SCP: Containment Breach.”  Senior Sofie Tepperman featured Totoro, a character in the popular Japanese animated fantasy film, “My Neighbor Totoro,” in her simple, avoid-the-obstacle-type game.

When asked about his students’ final products, McElroy noted that he was thrilled with the games that students in both periods had produced. “The level of detail and thought that most of the students put into their work was astonishing,” he said. “I even had some students that were learning to create AI that makes the enemies in their games act alive with their own thoughts.”

“This class can really be what you decide to make it. I have artistic students who are thriving on creating unique sprites for their games as well as students who are deep into coding,” McElroy said. “It is about learning, but it is also about having fun. I have told my students from the beginning of the year, If you are not having some fun in a class called “Game Design,” then I’m really not doing my job right.”

After the game design project concluded, students got to try out their peers’ games. This allowed fellow classmates to see what others had created during the four-week-long game design period. Next up, the Game Design students are looking forward to designing their own Minecraft worlds.