Plenty of classes have been rudely interrupted by students who are busy playing Fortnite: Battle Royale on their phones, but one course held around the country this summer will actually encourage the behavior.
For the first time this year, teenagers around the country can take a summer course in video game design focused entirely on Fortnite: Battle Royale, leveraging interest in the game to help educate the next generation of engineers and game designers. The course comes from iD Tech Camps, a STEM-focused summer camp startup that’s grown over the last two decades to educate 60,000 students a year. Programs focus on everything from coding to design, robotics, and of course, video game development. Though past courses have occasionally focused on other games like Minecraft, the brand-new “Fortnite Camp and Unreal Engine Level Design” this summer is one of a kind, and it will show kids around the country how to build a game just like Fortnite using the same software used by Epic Games.
Ricky Bennett, Director of Innovation and Partnerships at iD Tech Camps, tells Inverse all about how iD Tech Camps developed the course in partnership with Epic Games to craft an experience that students will love. “We’re gonna play some Fortnite and have fun in the course,” he said.
The course will be taught in 28 states and Washington DC throughout this summer to students 13 and older. (Fortnite sometimes caters to an even younger audience, but the game is still technically a violent shooter — albeit a cartoonish one — and therefore carries with it a “Teen” rating.) With an average class size of eight students to one teacher, each class works together to build what’s essentially “condensed version of Fortnite,” according to Bennett. They’ll use assets directly from Epic Games’s Paragon to build their own battle royale environment in Unreal Engine.
But the course itself is adjustable to varied skill levels, so whether students are beginners or seasoned game designers, they’ll be able to enhance their skills. The goal of the course is to build a simple Fortnite clone, but it doesn’t have to stop there. “Anything beyond that is determined by the students’ aptitude and drive,” Bennet said. “If they want to push forward and do something awesome, we’ll encourage that.” Considering Paragon includes tons of characters and environments that look like the following, students could indeed do something awesome:
As fun and exciting as the course looks, it’s not all literally fun and games. The whole point is to set students on a path towards becoming the next generation of engineers and game designers. “Our job isn’t to create the next Fortnite star,” Bennett said, even though he did admit the course includes time spent playing the game and tips on how to stream gameplay. “Our job is to leverage enthusiasm for the game as a way to get a student on a pathway to a career one day. We want to provide positive exposure to technology that’ll help fill those 2 million unfilled STEM jobs in the US.”
One way iD Tech Camps is trying to get students even more excited is by securing the endorsement of Richard “Tyler” Blevins, more commonly known as the Fortnite streaming sensation “Ninja.” In early April, iD Tech Camps hosted a “Fortnite Nite” in Chicago with Ninja as a special guest to give potential students a taste of what to expect from the course.
Ninja himself has given the program a ringing endorsement, saying, “iD Tech’s Fortnite Camps blend the hottest title out right now with real-world skills for a future in game design or development.”
The earliest sessions for iD Tech Camps’ Fortnite course start in only a few more weeks, so it’s only a matter of time before plenty of teenagers around the country are making their own battle royale games. Who knows, maybe one could be the next big thing?