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East County students create table top and video games during the second Library Game Camp

by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - The next set of East County Library Game Camps will be held this fall and winter.

Last week, 22 students ventured into the world of gaming during East County's second Library Game Camp, held June 23-27 at Gresham Library.

Pixel Arts Game Education leads an initiative called Games Education PDX, hosting the game camps and striving to connect Portland youths from underprivileged areas with hands-on game education.

During camp, students build their own tabletop game worlds, illustrate a “choose-your-own-adventure” game with the storytelling software Twine and bring their games to life with the visual programming software SNAP.

"We try to create a positive, intergenerational learning environment," said Will Lewis, a camp organizer and co-founder of Pixel Arts Game Education, noting its 13 adult volunteer mentors. "Of the 22 participants, 13 were boys and nine were girls– that's huge in technology environments, and a really positive thing.

"Three girls who didn't know each other at the beginning were planning a sleepover for the weekend by the end. One parent said her daughter was on the autism spectrum and didn't want to mention it. She became totally comfortable, made friends and was very happy being able to participate."

Lewis said plans are in the making for future East County game camps this fall and winter. Pixel Arts is introducing a new module on character creation, capitalizing on the art side of things.

Since its inaugural Gresham Library camp in January, Pixel Arts has expanded to create six different game camps this summer, four in the Multnomah County Library system (Capitol Hill, Gresham, Troutdale and Sellwood-Moreland). Pixel Arts also partners with Self Enhancement, Inc. and Portland Community College.

For more information, visit http://www.gameeducationpdx.com/.

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