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Friday, October 24, 2014
Learning through video games
Brandeis School to establish a design program and gamers club
Ann E. Friedman/Herald
Microsoft Student Partner Ashley Alicea visited the Brandeis School in Lawrence and showed students how they can create their own video games.

Brandeis School students in sixth through eighth grade collaborated on an original design for a video game in preparation for Microsoft Student Partner Ashley Alicea’s May 4 visit.

East Atlantic Beach resident and parent of two Brandeis School students, Erika Prafder, arranged Alicea’s visit so students can take their love of gaming to the next level. “Video games can promote change in the world and Ashley can show them,” Prafder said. “Hopefully this will kindle something in those students who want to think bigger.”

Alicea, who is president of two Gamers Clubs at Ithaca College, one where members play video games and another in which they make games, hopes to help the Brandeis School jump start their own Gamers Club. “I want to be their mentor,” she said. “I have more than three years experience with the club and it takes management, organization and a steady work flow that they should follow. I want to teach the kids what took me years to figure out.”

Head of School Alese Gingold, said the school will not only start a Gamers Club for those who have an interest in designing and playing video games next school year but will create a Video Game Design and Development Program. “Technology is where the world is going and this is their future,” she said. “The exposure they receive today helps them jump start for tomorrow.”

In addition to sending Alicea to the school for a presentation, Microsoft also donated its Kodu Game Lab software for students who want to learn how to design original video games.

Abigail Glattman, a sixth-grader, is very happy her school has the gaming software and was motivated by Alicea’s presentation. “If you want to do something, start at an early age and keep working on it,” she said. “I’m excited to use it and make an idea into a game.”

Alicea hopes students are inspired to pursue a career in video games. “Video games are thought of as play but it’s a huge industry and there are lots of jobs,” she said. “I want to show kids that this is something they can do and it’s a great learning experience. They need to know what options are available to them and that it’s a world they might not have thought of before.”

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