Isaac and David spent two weeks this year at Game Camp Nation, which has been operated for a number of years by our friends Phil Luchon and Steve Deyesso and their staff, originally under the name of “Camp Turing.”
David and Isaac were among the first students to test a new curriculum designed for younger students. They developed games using the GameMaker software, which allows sprite-based games to be created using a relatively simple properties-panel-driven model. (Game Maker also features its own scripting language, and the ability to do more advanced things, even as much as a 3D FPS game.) Game Camp Nation also offers courses in game programming using C++ (which will probably be switched to Java next year), and 3D modeling and animation using AutoDesk’s Maya.
Each student gets his own computer to work and play on all day. Attendees also have some non-computer time to play board games and enjoy meals. Still, this was more of a “Geek Heaven” kind of place than one might be expecting in a summer camp. (I wonder if any of the children noticed that the conference room the hotel gave them didn’t have any windows.)
Both weasels enjoyed camp immensely, and readily learned to create and debug games. They were up before I was every morning, and I let them stay late almost every night to participate in the network gaming tournaments that the camp runs at the end of the day. David got so tired one day that he fell asleep in the car in the morning, and then on the couch in seconds when we got home, sleeping there nearly 12 hours through the night.
We Have a Weiner Winner!
The game tournament is open to all camp attendees, whether they stay overnight or not. To keep things balanced among different types of games, they played FPS games (Halo and Call of Duty), RTS games (StarCraft and Command & Conquer 3), and Motocross Madness 2. Scores were kept all week, and the winner each week got a $50 gift certificate to Best Buy.
Of course that meant that Isaac and David were staying until 8:30 every night, but I figured it was worth the effort for two weeks.
Isaac came in first the first week, despite my dragging him out early one night. During the second week, he was leading by 100% of the second-place person’s score. Steve decided that dominating by that much for two weeks in a row would be called “Isaacing.”