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iD Tech Camps Feature GameSalad

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GameSalad is pleased to work with iD Tech Camps, the leading summer technology program. During this weeklong, day, and overnight program, ages 7-17 create iPhone apps, video games, C++ and Java programs, websites, digital movies, 3D models and animations, robots and more. There are even two video game courses that use GameSalad: Game Design for iPhone & iPad I and Game Design for iPhone & iPad II. This is not your typical camp since it makes a huge impact on children’s lives as they learn firsthand how their interests can turn into potential careers. Summer programs are held at 60 universities nationwide, including Stanford, Princeton, Columbia, Emory, UCLA, and other prestigious universities in 27 states. At iD Tech Camps, students take their game playing to the next level… they create their own video games!

GameSalad recently met with Karen Thurm Safarn, the VP of Marketing and Business Development with iD Tech Camps to discuss their curriculum and integration of GameSalad Creator tool.

GameSalad: Hi Karen, Thanks for taking the time to speak with us about iD Tech Camps. It is obvious that iD Tech Camps are an amazing resource for students interested in technology. How many students attend per summer? 

Karen Thurm Safarn: This is our 14th season, and each summer more students attend than the previous year. Last year we had nearly 20,000 students and this summer we anticipate over 22,000. In total, we’ve seen over 130,000 students participate in our programs iD Tech Camps and iD Teen Academies. iD Teen Academies are 2-week, pre-college, immersive programs: iD Gaming Academy, iD Programming Academy, and iD Visual Arts Academy.

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GameSalad: Tell us about the demand for app development courses at iD Tech Camps and what made you decide to add them to the curriculum?

Karen Thurm Safarn: We were very aware of the interest and rapid emergence of mobile app development, especially among young students eager to create apps and games for the iPhone and iPad. Demand for education related to mobile apps is strong and continues to grow at an unprecedented rate.

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GameSalad: When did you start offering app development classes?

Karen Thurm Safarn: In 2010 we began offering an app development course featuring iPhone SDK with Xcode, which is very advanced software.  We started incorporating the easy-to-use GameSalad Creator program at iD Tech Camps in the summer of 2011. With its popularity, we’ve expanded to two courses that use GameSalad Creator:  3D Game Design for iPhone & iPad I and II.

GameSalad: How many students of those students are taking part in the app development classes?

Karen Thurm Safarn: In 2011, we had over 1,500 students enroll in our Game Design for iPhone & iPad course. As I mentioned, we now have two separate Game Design for iPhone & iPad classes – I is for ages 10-12 and II is for ages 13-16. So far, we have already surpassed the 1,500 mark between the two courses, and expect many more to register between now and June. There’s still space if people are interested, but as you can imagine, we’re quickly selling out. Who wouldn’t love to spend a week creating video games.

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GameSalad: How did you first learn of the GameSalad Creator tool?

Karen Thurm Safarn: GameSalad Creator was establishing a reputation in the tech industry as one of the best tools for drag-and-drop game creation for the iOS platform, and our program tries to use the latest and greatest products. Previously we only used the Apple iOS SDK, but it is software that requires previous programming experience. With its accessible interface and intuitive toolset, GameSalad Creator allowed us to bring mobile game creation to a large number of students without coding prior experience.

GameSalad: What types of video games can iD Tech Camps students expect to create using GameSalad?

Karen Thurm Safarn: Our students have done amazing things in just one week. The best way to illustrate what they can do is through the San Francisco Chronicle article and CNET TV coverage. These students use the GameSalad software and start with different templates then add rules and directions to personalize their games, even in very creative ways. You’ll meet 11-year-old Samantha who using GameSalad, created a clever iPhone app called “Cupcakes vs. Bunnies” where smiley-faced cupcakes attack evil rabbits with sushi and sashimi. There’s also 11-year-old Claire whose little girl character bounces from the trampoline to different platforms in order to reach a special door and the next level.

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GameSalad: What has the reception been in the classrooms to app development? And app development with the GameSalad tool? 

Karen Thurm Safarn: The reception has been nothing short of amazing. Being able to create an app that kids can demonstrate to their friends on their iPhone is confidence inspiring. GameSalad Creator is so easy to use. It brings a world of creative possibilities to non-programmers.

The San Francisco Chronicle article and CNET TV coverage showcase some of our students work. With do something BIG!, we feature many stories which show how students have turned their interest into something more. Their apps have sold in the Apple store, they’ve written books, they’ve returned to school to teach classes in programming, they started tech clubs, and much more. Most of these stories feature students in their after-camp years, detailing how they’ve used skills learned at our programs to set themselves apart in school and in their careers. With GameSalad Creator being fairly new to iD Tech Camps, along with the fact that the students who have experienced the software at camp are younger in age, we anticipate seeing more and more success stories as these kids grow older and begin to do BIG things after getting their start with GameSalad Creator.

GameSalad: What advice would you offer to children and teens interested in technology and app development?

Karen Thurm Safarn: It is so important to foster interests and see how you can take these passions further. Perhaps something like app development, video game creation, and programming can turn into a career. We advise students to spend the summer exploring opportunities that focus on their interests. What could be more satisfying then having a career doing something you love to do?