What do you get when you combine a handful of motivated would-be game designers, three “ancient instructors” and one-hour meetings every day for four weeks? The answer is five awesome games that each novice game designer created from start to finish.
The Step Away! workshop was moved online due to the COVID-19 pandemic and we were very concerned about how it would play out (pun intended). The good news is that it played out better than we could have ever anticipated.
The online Step Away! experience combined various experiences and modalities. We meet in a 3D world, shared game ideas and concepts via Zoom and we even sent a “goodie box” delivered via good ‘ole fashion snail mail to the locations of attendees who opened it up and encountered a small Lego kit, a note book and other great items related to game design. All of those ingredients mixed together resulted in enthusiasm, engagement and tangible game prototypes.
And, while we used game design as the main vehicle of the workshop, the workshop was about more than game design. The workshop was about creativity, getting out of your comfort zone and the hectic pace or work and deadlines.
The experience allowed the attendees to take control of their learning and to explore concepts, ideas and avenues of creativity that were of interest to them. Our Slack channel included comments as late as 3:00 AM as ideas continued to percolate among the attendees.
What made the Step Away! event so successful from the perspective of the attendees and the hosts was the opportunity to explore, in depth, concepts and ideas that are not usually explored in depth in other venues. It was possible to have an idea and think about and discuss it over the course of a week gaining new ideas, modifying parts of the idea via comments and eventually polishing the idea for the game to a new level because of the prolonged feedback.
Attendees didn’t feel rushed to develop something and the instructors didn’t feel rushed to answer questions. Things could progress over time. One of the gifts of moving Step Away! online truly was the opportunity to step away from the hustle and bustle and for at least an hour a day, focus only on a creative endeavor.
Next time you think you don’t have time for creativity, stop and think about taking an hour a day and dedicating it to a creative endeavor, you’ll be surprised by the results. And, if you don’t think you can do it on your own, consider joining the next Step Away! online event.