Graphic design students present game projects in Charleston

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Graphic design students from Mason, Mercer and Mingo counties were part of a statewide challenge to create board and card games that were presented and played at the State Capitol Friday.

Nearly 70 high school juniors and seniors from career technical centers worked together in simulated work places since February to create the two games.

Cathleen McNally, a school improvement specialist from the Southern Regional Education Board in Atlanta, Ga., works with the teachers involved in the project. She said the goal was to increase and upgrade the quality of learning in a demanding, yet fun way, that uses all academic skills.

“Students learn more deeply if they’re engaged and it’s rigorous, so that combination comes out. Our research shows that when students have more opportunities through this type of learning, they do better across the board,” said McNally, about why the program was so important to West Virginians.

Students were assigned to create a board game and a card game, similar to Pokemon. Each student had to design three cards based on their own features including a super hero, a villain and an alien. Every card was then mixed in with all three counties as one deck of cards.

“My hero was based on my looks. I did my villain based on my emotions and then the alien was just based on my emotions too,” said Megan Taylor, a junior at Mingo Central High School in Mingo County.

Taylor said trying to complete the project with schools across three counties was challenging because they couldn’t communicate in person or see one another’s drawings, but the idea of working with others, as an artist, was something she enjoyed.

“You get different ideas from different people. You think one way and then they’re going to think another. Sometimes you can take their ideas and they can help you out designing characters,” she said.

Doug Martin, one of the teachers from Mingo Central High, said there’s a lot of passion that goes into graphic design. He described graphic design as an art, a business and a way of having to work with computers, all in one.

“They’re using so many different types of skills: communication skills, of course their artistic abilities, so it’s very diverse,” said Martin.

Martin said most of his students are actively pursuing scholarships to college for graphic design while working in the program.

McNally said the students were also given the opportunity to create a licensing agreement along with letters they wrote to Hasboro and Milton Bradley toy companies, complimenting their games. She said it was a great way for them to polish their academic skills in a “real” sense.

State School Superintendent Michael Martirano and state Board of Education President Gayle Manchin were also in attendance to congratulate the teams.