Through character design, pixel art, coding, and controller fabrication, students in Mx. Ramsey’s 5th grade CEL class create original video games that address a change they’d like to see in the world. Games teach valuable lessons in uniquely approachable and intuitive ways, allowing players to discover challenges at their own pace and encouraging curiosity and progress.
“One video game I use as an example is the indie platformer Celeste,” said Mx. Ramsey. In Celeste, the main character is a young girl with an anxiety disorder who is on a mission to climb a snowy mountain, but the peak can only be reached once she overcomes her struggles with her own mental health. “When I finally won the game, it was an arduous process, but deeply rewarding—what I learned about patience and stress management has helped me face the many challenges of today’s world. I believe games resonate with young people not because they are merely recreational, but because they speak to their natural curiosity and thirst for experimentation and challenge,” Mx. Ramsey said.
This project uses games as a framework so that the students can research social and political issues they feel strongly about such as mental health, pollution, and climate change, war, and LGBTQ rights, just to name a few. After developing their game concept, students dive deep into character design where they create pixel art sprites on a free coding website called Scratch. Students then use Scratch to code their games. The end result are games made by young people for young people that actually tackle and bring awareness to quite complex problems.
Check out the 5th Grade CEL Arcade below to play!