An “Amber Academy” Story
21st Century Context: Information & Education
With the passing of time the access to information has become so easy that almost everyone can learn about everything as long as they have an internet connection and some discipline. If you discover what you like, with the right amount of knowledge and the proper attitude, the dream job might be just one click away.
Take game development, for example. In school, one may learn some programming, basic design concepts, maybe some storytelling, but when you sum it up, no school in Romania teaches any student something more tangible about this field. And then again, you have the internet, with so many tutorials and online courses, but for the majority of high school and university students it’s hard to organize it and work with it.
The Amber Academy Story
Talking with the people at Amber, I discovered that with a little work and planning we could turn things around for this field and help students discover the honest facts about making games. Given Amber’s experience in game development, the first easy step was to see how their experience could be used to guide the students. Thus, the “Crash Course in Game Development” was born.
In 2017, we organized around 5 crash courses in game development for high school students, and of course, by 2018 we felt it was time to take it to the next level.
We gathered around with some of the Amber’s mentors and after a little bit of brainstorming we put together a workshop for university students and a curriculum for a Summer Camp — the Amber Academy already became an entity.
It was refreshing to see how interested the students are in this field, and from their interaction with the mentors during the courses, we could tell that this game aficionados were quite eager to discover as much as they could — The game development Summer Camp was a must!
By June we announced the Summer Camp, which was bound to take place in the last week of June and the first one of July, organized for the two groups of students. For the first week we selected some of the high school students that took part in the dedicated crash courses. During the second week we gathered a group of university students.
Each week students participated in an intense program, during which they learned about Game Design, Art in Games, Programming, Quality Assurance and what teamwork means. The students were really thrilled and the workshops went super smooth thanks to amazing Amber Mentors: Gabriel Stancu, Aurelian Talpasanu & Cosmin Dobra (Game Design), Catalin Raibuh (Art), Cristian Bidea (Programming), Corneliu Lungu (QA).
What We Learned
There are so many good students out there and when they discover something that they love, there are truly no limits to their creativity. And that’s exactly what we found out in this Amber Academy sessions with such different students, coming from diverse fields of study (computer science, bilingual and arts) — it didn’t matter that they studied something else at school, if it was something new and challenging, they were willing to learn about it, as long as they liked it.
Our next move will be to organize the Engineering internship for some of the students that took part in the Summer Camp. Also, part of the program is mitigating the needs of Amber employees by creating a series of workshops that will help the people of Amber improve their mentor skills. This process will not only help the mentors have a better understanding of the teaching skills, but also offer them feelings of significance, community and value.
We are also planning a more diverse Summer Camp in 2019, one that will tackle areas such as personal development and leadership.