GBLNYC’s Inaugural Game Design Workshop

While New York City was shaken up during Saturday’s snowstorm, a group of edtech visionaries in one Manhattan building flurried up a blast of their own, shaking up the educational sphere with innovative game-based learning ideas.

Game-Based Learning NYC (GBLNYC) — a community of educational game enthusiasts — hosted our first ever game design workshop on December 14th. With the tremendous help from BrainPOP — a top NYC company for interactive media in kids’ education — we held a full Saturday workshop from 11am-4pm in BrainPOP’s space. About 30 GBLNYC members participated, including honorary coaches and judges  from NY educational game companies to share their expertise.


BrainPOP was the perfect cozy space for us to spend this snowy Manhattan Saturday! The workshop assigned members to diverse groups for design iteration, interjected with full regrouping to briefly share process updates and experience new twists to keep evolving the concepts.

The participants spanned across various levels of experience and diverse backgrounds including game design, teaching, curriculum building, UX design, development, business and production. Focusing on iterative design conceptualization and rapid prototyping, the workshop demanded a collaborative effort from this merged audience — and they sure delivered!


A coach helps a group concepting a game that would transform an elementary school classroom into an interactive mission to master geology.


A group uses simple materials to start paper prototyping while designing.


A group adapts familiar game mechanics from Texas Hold’em to an educational game concept that would require more critical thinking skills.

We were thrilled with the outcome of the event. It was based off the What’s Your Game Plan? activity that our member Joe Bisz (CUNY) had designed and led to kick off our workshop. With the help of each other’s specialized backgrounds, the coaches’ experiences, and a touch of inspiration, every group evolved a game concept into a fun prototype that we were all able to watch or play by the end of the day.


A coach and group member do a practice run of their paper prototype in the last few minutes before everyone regroups for final presentations & judging.

Not only did we introduce new constraints and variations throughout the event, but we also brought in a competitive aspect by asking our judges to award the groups for Best Game Concept (for the most effective educational game) and Best Playable Game (for the best prototype). Battle Source and BadLibs prevailed! — But everyone did an amazing job, and we hope this exercise will lead them to further developing and eventually implementing some of the innovative ideas we saw!

Special thanks to:

@Joe_Ballou of @Civic_Games for founding Game-Based Learning NYC, taking the reigns for this event and being a wonderful co-organizer to work with!

@AllisynScott (@emsariel) and Laura Gatto (@LSGatto) of @BrainPOP for being such accommodating hosts and helpful coaches / judges!

Joe Bisz for leading our first exercise of the day with his original game, and assisting with the workshop planning!

Katya (@katyamuses) of @ELineMedia, Chris Liu (@notchrisliu) of @AdventureCow and @Deidre_Witan for their valuable insights that helped groups move forward throughout the day.

And last by certainly not least, our inspiring members for participating (and doing one hell of a good job)!


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