Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: How long are the sessions each day?

The course will be held during the day of the week of June 22-26 (approximately 9 – 3 pm) and June 29-July 2 (approximately 9 – 4 pm). Since we will be covering a lot of material on teaching physical, tabletop, and video games as art content, learning programming concepts using GameMaker, and how to do assessment with the curriculum, it will be important that you are there for the full week.

Q: Can I take the course for college credit?

To receive college credit, additional work will be in the form of an action research study that you conduct on the implementation of the game content in your school.

To find out more about registering for college credit go to the VCU Art Education website

Q: Is Currentlab a commuter program that will need to be available for our teachers within our district before, during, and after the institute?

The Currentlab institute will not require teachers to come to Richmond before or after the week of professional development in June/July. There may be emails/documents sent before or after the summer institute but will not require individuals to come to Richmond. The teaching assistance provided in the fall of 2015 after the summer professional development will be on-site at your schools so teachers will get support in the environments where they teach. Visiting arrangements will be made in advance with Dr. Patton or a graduate student who will be a site visitor.

Q: Are the art teachers selected to attend the professional development this summer required or expected to commit to implementing the program in their school?

Because of the nature of the professional development and the grant sponsoring it, art teachers attending the professional development are expected to commit to implementing what they learned in some capacity at their school. Additional technical support will be provided by Dr. Patton and the art education department in the fall of 2015 to help you achieve those goals.

Q: Would it suffice to incorporate what I learn with Currentlab into an existing art class?

Most definitely! There isn’t an expectation that an all new game course is introduced in your school, but that you can incorporate games in your current teaching.

Q: Will Currentlab provide teachers the program to implement once they return to their school?

The teacher institute course will be talk about games in a number of ways that aren’t software specific and will provide a curriculum that teachers can use in their classrooms. When the course gets into video game development, we will be using the free version of the program GameMaker (

I continued to use GameMaker over the years because the program is user-friendly, has a large and active online community for assistance/support, and is free/relatively cheap. As a former high school teacher, I understand the cost and access to the latest and greatest software and hardware can be a barrier, so I have always developed new media content with those software and hardware constraints in mind.

Since the VCU lab we will be using for the professional development is a Mac lab, we will be using GameMaker Lite for Mac. Since GameMaker was originally developed for the PC, so there are more options for Windows. If you use a mixture of Macs and PCs in your school, I recommend downloading the GameMaker 7 Lite for PC since it is cross-compatible with the Mac version of the software.

If your school is PC based, GameMaker 8 Lite is the most recent version that allows you to have unlimited characters, objects, and resources in the game for free.

If you are wanting to upload games to the web or make iPhone or Android games, GameMaker Studio for PC is an option but will cost you money. If you decide this is important to your art program, I recommend you buy one GameMaker studio license that allows you to convert files to HTML, iPhone, & Android but have students initially work in the free GameMaker Lite version and then move their files to the computer with GameMaker Studio when they want to convert their games to HTML, iPhone, or Android.

You can also contact YoYo Games, the makers of GameMaker, about educational pricing if you are thinking of purchasing the software:

I know of other software packages allowing beginners to make games without much programming knowledge, however for our course we will try to maximize concepts and content that are not software specific and provide competency of how to create interactive artworks that can be applied to GameMaker and other software packages.

Other software that we will recommend for image editing, and audio creation are free/open source such as GIMP (open-source Photoshop), Audacity, Soundation, and BFXR.

Q: What are the eligibility requirements for housing, meals, and reimbursement for transportation? Are we required to stay overnight or can we commute in for daily sessions?

We have been planning to provide meals for all participants and VCU resident hall accommodations for those who are coming from beyond a reasonable distance. For our costs, we would prefer people to commute (and carpool!).