As Education Associate of The LAMP, I’ve been granted the opportunity to oversee and provide support to all current programing. The best part of the experience thus far has been working one-on-one with students. As a youth advocate, it’s always been essential for me to see students build critical thinking skills within a hands on experience. The first workshop I had the pleasure to oversee was the six-week program at Red Hook Initiative (RHI) where middle school students created their own video game commercials. While creating their own content, they also examined how video game commercials are constructed and explored several of the persuasion techniques used to sell them.
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Before students were able to produce their own commercials, facilitators Emma Francis and Karli Kopp created an atmosphere where students examined current video game commercials. This fostered a discussion about how video games have specific target audiences and utilize persuasion tools to capture the audiences’ attention. RHI students proved to be interested in how products were advertised differently to boys versus girls. When the boys discussed how they would design an ad for a ‘feminine’ game, 10-year-old DeVano stated, “There must be a good-looking guy in the commercial to grab the attention of the girls.” Many of the girls had puzzled looks on their faces, and a young lady named Jama countered with, “That’s not true, not all girls want to see a guy in a commercial for a video game!” Throughout the discussion, it became apparent that the girls of the class were not happy with the video game products targeted to them, often saying there was “no action or real fun or even adventure” in the ads. As a result, a group of four young ladies aimed to design a video game where young girls were seen as fun but competitive as well.
One of the values here at The LAMP is process over product. Throughout this program, one of the over-arching themes has been for the students to be active participants throughout the creative process. I watched as groups of students narrowed down their ideas through storyboarding and critical analysis of how best to reach their target audience. The enthusiasm exercised by the students amazed me every week. They learned camera and editing skills, but most importantly, they learned to implement their own ideas through collaboration.
Lead facilitator Emma Francis reflected, “One of my favorite classes was when the students made props for the commercials they were going to shoot. It was really great seeing them have to scale down their creativity into something they could physically create. “ Throughout the six-week program, the students were able to being their vision to reality while also learning more about games are marketed to them.
– Zenzele Johnson, Education Associate