AMD Launches Activate! Web site For Game Development

AMD today announced the launch of Activate!, an interactive Web site primarily targeted for
children ages 13-15 that enables kids to easily design and program video games.
Activate! was created by PETLab and funded by a $77,000 AMD Foundation
grant in support of AMD Changing
the Game. AMD Changing the Game helps strengthen programs that improve
children’s critical science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills and
encourages kids to become more globally conscious citizens by developing digital
video games with social content.

The Activate! Web site is currently being translated into Mandarin and also
will be deployed on the intranet of the not-for-profit Dandelion Middle School
in Beijing later this summer. A month-long game development workshop held at the
school is expected to reach an estimated 475 students.

“In its short two-year history, AMD Changing the Game has supported several
leading-edge partners and programs that help expand the use of digital game
development as an educational tool. With Activate!, teens far and wide will have
access to the tools they need to create their own games,” said Allyson Peerman,
President, AMD Foundation. “Our goal is to help today’s youth grow into
technically adept, critical thinkers and responsible citizens in order to thrive
in our digital world.”

PETLab is a joint project of Games for Change and Parsons The New School for
Design. It is a game design research lab that connects scholars and designers in
the field of digital media, practitioners working in the spheres of education
and social issues, and people of all ages at play.

“As we see a stronger focus placed on the importance of gaming and education,
it is important that youth develop a literacy about games themselves and the
potential to address social and global issues through game design,” said Colleen
Macklin, Associate Professor, the Director of PETLab and an Associate Professor
at Parsons The New School for Design. “The Activate! Web site is about active
and fun learning through design and we believe students will feel a great sense
of achievement when they complete the challenges and activities.”

Activate! contains tutorials for making games, example games for users to
play, and will feature a gallery of user-generated games. Activate! leverages
the publicly available Game Maker software program to help create the games.
Depending on local laws, users will also be able to upload their completed games
to the Activate! site.

The Activate! online activities are designed and presented in the form of
“challenges” rather than traditional lessons. Each challenge corresponds with a
current socially-conscious theme and some challenges may link to special global
and social events. The Activate! challenge modules will measurably enhance the
following competencies among youth participants:

  • Familiarity with game design elements, such as graphics, sound, narrative,
    rules, programming and play
  • Familiarity using specialized design and programming software such as Game
  • Ability to engage in design-based processes, including problem-solving,
    sketching, prototyping, testing and modifying
  • Understanding of cause-and-effect relationships within different gaming
  • Experience applying programming and procedural logic to game structures and
    behavior, and applying mathematics to character movement
  • Teamwork and collaboration skills within a creative atmosphere
  • Awareness about the pressing social issues embedded in various game-based

AMD Changing the Game

AMD Changing the Game is designed to take gaming beyond entertainment by
inspiring teens to create digital games on important social issues, such as
energy or the environment. As a result, they enrich their educational experience
by learning critical science, technology, education and math (STEM) and life
skills. The initiative is rooted in AMD’s commitment to and experience in
supporting education, and the company’s passion and expertise in the graphics
processor and gaming industries.

Since its launch in June 2008, AMD Changing the Game has funded 18 programs
by organizations that enable youth game development, including:

  • Funded the development of a youth game development curriculum with PETLab and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America
  • Funded the development of the World Wide Workshop Foundation’s Globaloria game-design
    program for the Southwest
    Key’s East Austin College Prep Academy in 2009 and 2010.
  • Co-sponsored the Malaysian Cybergames Festival 2010, including the “Dare to
    Create” digital game design and development workshop
  • Funded the Alliance
    for Young Artists & Writers new video game design category for the 2010
    and 2011 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards
  • Funded Schmahl Science Workshop’s program to develop a sustainable
    fishing video game to communicate “the danger of over fishing to long-term human
  • Co-sponsored the 2008, 2009 and 2010 Games for Change
    Festival. The 2010 sponsorship includes a day-long workshop the AMD
    Foundation is sponsoring to teach educators about the various tools available
    for youth game development.


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