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Auckland Games for Learning Workshop 2018

  • Want a crash course in game design for the classroom?

  • Looking for other game based activities that are working effectively?

  • Keen to network and share ideas with other game-using and game-curious educators?


Book now for the Auckland Games for Learning Workshop, brought to you by Mission Heights Junior College with support from NZCER.


When: Saturday, 3 November, 8:30 am - 4:30 pm

Where: Mission Heights Junior College, 103 Jeffs Road, Mission Heights, Manukau, Auckland

Cost:  $99/person, includes lunch and morning tea.  


Together, NZCER and MHJC will bring you a variety of interactive presentations and workshops to share and showcase the power of games and game design in the classroom. The workshop covers both digital and non-digital games and has three themes:


1) Get started: captivate learners with games in the classroom

Find out why game-based learning is so engaging for students, and get top tips for incorporating games into your teaching practice. 


2) Dive into digital game design: discover tools and techniques

Learn how to kick start a Game Development Club, and hear how Pakuranga College made VR games a reality in its classrooms.


3) Unpack complex issues with games: play in the real world

Experience how role-play and simulation games are effective at introducing complex concepts, and how games can help students engage with big ideas about the future.

Registration has now closed. If you are still interested in registering, please e-mail Catherine Hunter directly at

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Featured sessions

Theme 1: Get started - captivate learners with games in the classroom

Getting Started with Games with Diana-Grace Morris

Are you keen to bring game play and game design into your classroom curriculum in a meaningful way, but unsure where to start? Are you wondering what kinds of learning you can build around a games focus? This session will take the form of an introductory workshop on making and playing games. I’ll show you how game-based learning can transform your classroom into a more creative, collaborative, and inclusive community, and bring out the best in your students.  I’ll share insights from research and my own practice with Y 7 and 8 students, AUT pre-service teachers, and as an RTLB, including transforming the classroom into a game design studio space, making games for a national game design competition and PB4L, writing game reviews, and establishing school-wide Chess and code clubs. This session will leave you with lots of ideas you can put into practice on Monday.

Game Fit for Purpose with Rich Durham

Learn some principles to applying playful design and games in teaching. From making current activities playful, to designing for single-skill acquisition, to providing group experiences for critical reflection. Participants will collaborate to develop playful and game activities for their own use. We will modify a template for future-you to use when designing playful and game-like activities in your own context.

Theme 2: Dive into digital game design: discover tools and techniques

How to foster game development in your school with Tyne Crow

Tyne Crow will share how Pakuranga College has incorporated game development into extra-curricular groups and digital technologies classes. He will share practical tips for enabling all students to make authentically engaging games in class, and detail how several groups of students from the game development club have developed virtual reality games for the HTC Vive, with one group going on to release a game for sale worldwide on Steam.

Making 2D digital games  in Gamefroot with Dan Milward and Dave Thornycroft

Note: This session is hands-on and requires a laptop with a Chrome browser. 

Dan and Dave will help you quickly develop an authentic top-down RPG (role play game) in Gamefroot, using coding concepts from the digital technologies and hangarau matihiko curriculum.   Dan and Dave will also share their insights about supporting senior primary, intermediate, and junior secondary students to learn through making games, and what they've learned from setting up after-school Game Dev Clubs at schools all over Wellington.

GameMaker! with Julie Baker

MOTAT offers GameMaker! - an educational experience. Use a design process to troubleshoot arcade-style games and  build your own digital game, using glyphs to create hazards and challenges. It’s easy, fun and you’ll have a functioning game within an hour.  No coding experience is required

Theme 3: Unpack complex issues with games - play in the real world

Matrix Games with Andrew Savage

You will be introduced to Matrix simulation games (tabletop roleplay)  as a method for introducing complexity and critical thinking in the social sciences. Participants will play a game examining the complexity of peace-making. Get a taste of what to expect from this session here.

Gaming the Future with Chris Clay

The future only exists in our imagination - so what an awesome context for games based learning and game-design!


In this session you will explore some games to help develop systems thinking, get creative about the future and become more aware of why we act the way we do in the present.

Presenters and facilitators

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Tyne Crow has taught digital technologies teacher at Pakuranga College and is currently a teaching fellow for the Auckland ICT Graduate School. He has worked with game development in junior digital technologies and facilitated a student driven game development club. Students from the club went on to develop and sell a VR game. This also involved connecting students to the game dev community through organising trips to The Auckland Game Development Meetup and industry site visits. He is passionate about integrating game development into the classroom so all students can collaboratively engage in learning through creating enjoyable games they are enthusiastic about playing and sharing.

Tyne Crow

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Diana-Grace Morris  is a passionate educator with an interest in digital cultures and how futures thinking and ideas about complexity challenge many of the norms and assumptions of teachers' work. In 2016 she collaborated with her Year 7 & 8 students to transform an ordinary classroom into a year-long game design studio workshop. In 2017 she used game design in her work as a lecturer in the School of Education at AUT University, and currently brings games into her work as an RTLB in Wellington. Diana-Grace is totally convinced that Game Design facilitates improvement of ideas within diverse groups.  Her favourite games are Never Alone and Spaceteam. Once, she was killed by a polar bear 94 times in one night!​

Diana-Grace Morris


Dan Milward is the founder and CEO of Gamelab, and his goal in life is to make game creation accessible to everyone, including learners and teachers with no prior knowledge of coding and game design. Dave Thornycroft, in addition to being Gamelab’s lead content artist, has facilitated game coding workshops with hundreds of young New Zealanders and teachers.


Gamelab are the team behind Gamefroot, an online platform that enables young people to learn through making and building their own games and simulations. Dan and his team have run game creation and design workshops for young people and adults in schools, libraries, and museums all over New Zealand. Gamelab run highly successful after-school Game Dev Clubs in a number of Wellington schools and will be expanding to more centres in 2019.

Dan Milward and Dave Thornycroft

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Rich began integrating play into his own science curriculum, and continues today with the University of Auckland and his consultancy, Wondertree Studio.


He enjoys smooshing disparate things together “just to see what we can learn,” and is grateful for the many amazing collaborations he’s had over the years:


Everything from Māori history tabletop game for school teachers, a conservation mega-game for Vietnamese youth, a card game for a cryptography conference, to street games for festivals in Auckland, Rich looks for projects expanding the reach of playful experiences and through that engagement help make the world a better place.

Rich Durham

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Rachel Bolstad is a senior researcher and emerging game designer at NZCER. Rachel led the planning and programming for the 2017 Games for Learning conference, and has led a research project by the same name. She regularly blogs about game-based learning and game design in the classroom. Rachel is a contributor and guest editor to a forthcoming special issue of the journal Set: Research information for teachers on “Playing, gaming, and learning”.

Rachel Bolstad

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Since leaving the classroom in 2013, Chris has worked in for a range of start-ups, NGOs and corporations to support the development of powerful learning experiences. Chris's most recent work has been oriented towards to future and has involved him co-designing Singularity U's "Find Your Billion" programme, becoming a Faculty member of Boma-New Zealand and Director of Futures Thinking at Diocesan School for Girls.

Since the future only exists in our imagination, it is a great context for game development. This has led to Chris developing games that help young people grapple with the future by supporting their thinking and meaning making. Games have ranged from supporting environment scanning to open up future possibilities through to understanding the dynamics of the complex adaptive systems on which our civilisation rests.

Chris Clay

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Catherine Hunter is a Science and STEM teacher at Mission Heights Junior College. She uses her love of games to increase classroom engagement and to "trick" students into learning. Catherine helped develop MHJC's new STEM course, where students are introduced to game design concepts, coding and robotics.  


Catherine is leading the organising of the Auckland 2018 Games for Learning workshop with the support of colleagues at MHJC and NZCER.

Catherine Hunter

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Andrew Savage is a history educator and deputy principal at Wellington High School who primarily uses non-digital games as a method to engage students with history's complexity. He has a particular interest in how games can generate debate, hone students' argumentation skills and develop critical thinking when applied to historical contexts and their contemporary implications.

Andrew Savage

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