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September 23, 2020
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Peace-builders are using game dev workshops to teach kids how to work together

Peace-builders are using game dev workshops to teach kids how to work together

January 23, 2017 | By Alex Wawro

January 23, 2017 | By Alex Wawro
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"Making games is not limited to a universal experience, but rather results in an artifact that young people create together — an artifact that communicates a narrative which everyone contributes to through dialogue and debate."

- Ariam Mogos, UNICEF education innovation specialist and overseer of the Nairobi Play Project, in conversation with The Scratch Foundation's My Nguyen.

More often than not, game development is a collaborative process. Now, the Nairobi Play Project is capitalizing on that and promoting game design education for migrant and refugee youth in an effort to help them sharpen their technical and communication skills.

Supported by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations, the Nairobi Play Project is something game devs should pay attention to because, as founder Ariam Mogos describes in a Scratch Foundation blog post, it "equips urban refugee youth and Kenyan youth in Nairobi with technical skills, 21st century skills, and a peace-building model to support the local integration of urban refugee youth into Kenyan society."

Mogos is an education innovation specialist at UNICEF, and she uses Scratch and other game dev teaching tools in the Nairobi Play Project's week-long game design workshops for kids. She says the Project had its first workshop in Kenya last year, with the goal of teaching the 24 participants (8 Kenyan nationals, 8 refugees from Ethiopia and 8 from Eritrea, with roughly 50 percent women and ages ranging from 12-23) how to make games and work together effectively.

"Games-based learning is ideal because of how critical narrative is to both games and to intercultural dialogue," says Mogos. "Young people can bring their perspectives about a specific issue to the table, and work together to craft one narrative, which can still represent many perspectives or challenges embedded in a game. This process can help young people discover common ground and perspectives and experiences, as well."

You can read more about what she learned from the inaugural Nairobi Play Project workshop, as well as the Project's plans to expand its program and bring it to more nations around the world. in the full blog post.

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