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Pixel Press Floors
Pros: Creating video games from your own drawings lowers barriers and opens game design to more students.
Cons: Students with little gaming experience might find it challenging to get started.
Bottom Line: An excellent resource for practicing design and engineering skills, and a great way to encourage gamers to dig deeper.
Teachers can use Pixel Press Floors to teach basic design concepts. By drawing predefined shapes (or “glyphs,” as they’re called in the app), students create blueprints for their game that can be tested, designed, played, and shared with a global community in the arcade. If individual devices aren't available, multiple accounts can sign in to one device. Students can take turns creating their own games and challenge one another to their game creations. Teachers may want to get specific with assigning games as homework, but it’s most likely that Pixel Press Floors is best suited for self-directed learning. For those students who are always eager to play games in class, this is a great resource to get them thinking about the work that goes into making those games.
Editor's Note: As of January 1, 2017, Pixel Press Floors is no longer available for download. However, the developer is continuing to support Bloxels.
Pixel Press Floors gives students the tools to create and customize their own video games -- bringing their ideas to life and allowing them to share their creations with a global community. Not feeling up for the task of creating a game from scratch? The arcade is full of games from other kids. Getting started is as simple as drawing out ideas with pencil and paper. Students can draw their ideas for a game, take a photo, and upload that to their levels. Students will need to play by the rules (stay on the lines, use a ruler, and use existing "glyph" language), but it's still pretty incredible how customizable the experience can be while staying within these parameters. Plus, the connection between analog and digital makes creating your own game feel pretty magical. Students are encouraged to test out their game and iterate on their design before sharing it with other gamers in the arcade.
Although the app doesn't lump itself into the education category, there are plenty of opportunities for learning. Students quickly find that there's a lot to consider when laying out floors, distributing points, and building lava pits. They have to ask questions and make predictions as they draw out the game blueprints. After uploading the drawing, they can test the game, see what works and what doesn't, then make revisions for the next version. By creating their own problems to solve, kids will learn a lot along the way. How-to videos provide context for students to get started, but they may get frustrated before they can find them.