BRISTOL — He may be the son of a Rhode Island legislator, but 9-year-old Raymond Ottiano didn’t mention politics when asked about his future ambitions.
Raymond wants to be a video game designer.
“I would like to build games where you can do anything — sort of like ‘Minecraft’ with all 3-D shapes,” said Raymond, the son of Sen. Christopher Ottiano.
“Minecraft” is what Raymond was playing one day at the iD Tech Camp he attended recently at Roger Williams University. The indie game lets players build their own constructions out of textured cubes and then explore a virtual world they helped create.
“I came to this camp because I like ‘Minecraft’ and I thought it would be very fun to learn a lot,” said Raymond, a student at Pennfield School who also enjoys the games “Mario Super Slugger” and “Jardinains 2” for the computer.
iD Tech Camps are week-long summer programs where students ages 7 to 17 engage in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. Originally located at Brown University in Providence, the camp re-located this summer to Roger Williams, which camp director Trent Duncan said is getting rave reviews from campers and parents due to the excellent facilities available. Instructors make sure that campers don’t sit in front of a computer all day, he said.
“We have ultimate frisbee sometimes, we play on the tennis courts, we play basketball. We also have a nice game room downstairs — anything that gets them thinking outside of their world and what’s going on with the computer. We like to get their body moving, too,” he said.
At the camp, teens ages 13 to 17 were working on programming and Java, while younger students were developing role-playing games using “Minecraft” and MCEedit, its world editor (an application used to create “worlds” inside a game with just a few clicks).
“Instead of doing things block by block, you can do hundred of blocks at a time, or thousands of blocks. It speeds things up,” camp instructor Vincent Loignon said of MCEdit.
Many children who take the iD Tech camps are interested in game design, app programming, robotics, photography or filmmaking.
“Some kids take it because they love to play ‘Minecraft,’ and there’s nothing wrong with that,” said Mr. Loignon, a game programming major at Champlain College in Vermont. “Others take it because they want to be a game designer. They’re taking their favorite game, and they’re learning to do more things with it.”
Not every instructor at the camp studies game design or programming themselves.
“I’m an education major and I’m minoring in the history of science and technology, so I’m into how to teach kids how to work with computers, but I’m not a game programmer herself,” said Lauren Binger of Portsmouth, who attends Smith College.
Ms. Binger heard about job opportunities at the camp through a family member. “My oldest cousin, Casey, has been working with ID Tech for about six years and she’s now a director at the UCSD location in California,” said Ms. Binger, who was glad her cousin talked her into becoming an instructor.
“I think it’s a really great opportunity for the kids to learn how to do game design and programming and they all have so much fun,” she said.
For more information about iD Tech Camps, visit www.internaldrive.com.