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Teaching Video Game Design in Northern Uganda – A Give and Take

I was invited to teach Video Game Design (VGD) at the Oysters & Pearls-Uganda Tech Camp 2016 along with Professor Carl Twarog from East Carolina University in North Carolina and his 4th year student, Candice Fonville. The three of us made a great team.

Candice Fonville, Adeline Tushabe, Professor Carl Twarog

Candice Fonville, Adeline Tushabe, Professor Carl Twarog

Sandra had seen a notice on Twitter of my class in Unity in late 2015 at Outbox in Kampala and contacted me.

In the first week, we introduced the students to Unity Engine and how to make a basic 3D game with an environment, a 3D character, token collection and score. In the second week, we introduced 2D games, and showed the students the differences and similarities in making 2D, and 3D games. With the 2D game, the students were also introduced to a bit more programming than they had worked with in the first week.

I was very impressed with how quickly the students were able to grasp fairly complex concepts of Unity, programming, game design and computer skills in general. Besides game design, we also had some drawing classes, character design lessons with Adobe Fuse, and 2D Game Art creation with Inkscape. The students learned how to import third party game assets into their games in Unity.

When I went back in January 2017, I observed much progress; especially among the continuing students who were already familiar with a number of the concepts taught the previous year. A number of the new students also progressed very fast. Among them, two who stood out used the concepts they learned about environment creation, to create a tour of their school. The similarity between the tour game they created and the actual school was amazing. Their use of token collections to unlock gates, or new areas in the school was amazing and interesting as well.

During the recent two-week planning period in August 2017, we decided to add an advanced class in Tech Camp 2018. The class was designed for students who already had a background in Unity, or were at least familiar with creating scenes and environments with characters. The focus was to make the students become accustomed to solving programmatic problems in their games.

In Tech Camp 2018, the students will be introduced to certain aspects of Augmented Reality – using objects within their real-world environment to control their game.

I am grateful for this opportunity to work with the Oysters & Pearls-Uganda team, and the students at the camp. Both the team and students employ diverse skills, on the different aspects of the same, overall goal. Teaching the students at Oysters & Pearls – UG is gratifying for me personally, reminding me that the best way to perfect one’s skill is to teach someone else. I have watched students’ progress from learning basic computer skills, to making their own games.

I really enjoy going to the Oysters & Pearls – UG Makerspace for the end-of-term trainings to reinforce the skills and push them to stretch into more advanced challenges. Two of our students have been elevated to Peer Teachers and will be assisting me in January. I can’t wait!

By Adeline Tushabe

Adeline Tushabe recently left her full time employment with a goal of creating content for Virtual Reality with a team of Ugandan programmers and gamers. She is also a full-time consultant with Oysters & Pearls – Uganda and recently led a discussion with Christopher McKelvy, head of Partner Marketing at Oculus when he visited Kampala. They will continue the discussion when she attends Oculus Connect/4 in San Francisco in October 2017. Look for a follow up blog post!

Adeline organized a meeting in Kampala with Christopher McKelvey, head of Partner Marketing at Oculus.

Adeline organized a meeting in Kampala with Christopher McKelvey, head of Partner Marketing at Oculus.

By |September 19th, 2017|Holiday Training, Learning Programs, Ugandan Education|0 Comments

Beware of Wild Animals

Every hard-working team deserves a break, even if it is short. Two days after a couple of earthquakes rocked us to sleep, off we ventured to Murchison Falls National Park. In four years of touring this same park, one never grows tired of discovering what creatures are about. Some of the standouts included an albino Ugandan Kob, a puff adder who remained in the middle of the road for everyone to get still shots and video footage, a mock charge from a large bull elephant and a Cape Buffalo lying flat on the ground as well some beautiful giraffes and a couple of lions.

The development of oil production is now rather more noticeable – bright fluorescent towers dotting the horizon at night; and by day, several large vehicles transporting equipment disrupt the road traffic.

Sadly, the solitary male lion we saw meandering along the road around sunrise lost his brother to a snare last January. I remember first seeing that pair in July 2011. But, the three-legged male, called Butcher Man is alive and well and was reportedly mating a few weeks ago. We caught a distant glimpse of him by the Hippo Pool, walking stiffly with a full belly.