Keep an eye out for the new Bloxels TV commercial airing on the following channels, starting October 9th on the following channels.
It's been an exciting few weeks here at Pixel Press! Last week we announced our new partnership with Mattel, creators of many of the world's best known toys. This is an amazing opportunity for Pixel Press to work side-by-side with a world leader in toys to continue expanding on the innovation of the Bloxels creation platform.
Through this partnership, our team in St. Louis will continue to develop every aspect of the Bloxels software experience and future product line, while working directly with the team at Mattel to handle the manufacturing, marketing and distribution logistics of bringing Bloxels to consumers worldwide.
Mattel supports our continued dedication to education. Our team will continue building the end-to-end educational components for Bloxels in the classroom. We're looking forward to bringing many new tools and features to our educators in 2017 to continue to improve the Bloxels experience.
This partnership has been a long time in the making and we want to thank the hard working team at Mattel for their dedication – and thank you for your ongoing support in our effort to bring digital storytelling through video games to life for children everywhere.
The Pixel Press Team
by Coby Reynolds
Teacher, Apple Distinguished Educator
The Big idea
One of the great thing about Bloxels as an educator is the limitless learning opportunities it provides for students. The depth of creativity is only limited to the user's imagination, which means it can be used to engage students in all areas of learning. The first thing that comes to most people's mind is the computer science element of the game, however, I believe it is much more, which is why I have developed an iTunes U course to showcase some of these possibilities. As an educator I am always looking for new ways to engage students in a range of tasks so they have a more authentic learning experience, and therefore, develop a deeper level of understanding of the topic. The iTunes U course incorporates elements of real-life learning and gameplay to engage students in varied forms of writing styles. The course is broken up into four main sections; Designing and Planning; Creating; Evaluating the Audience and Advertising.
Designing and Planning
The idea came about to place the student at the center of the learning by beginning with a letter from a gaming company to the student as the game designer. This outlines the design brief, which requires the students to pitch their idea in a persuasive letter. From there the students explore the elements of what makes games enjoyable and all of the features of Bloxels itself. This section is particularly important as this is the key to the engagement level of the rest of the course. This is where they are able to develop the fun element of the gameplay and begin to let their imagination run wild. In this section students also begin to create a design portfolio that is an ongoing task throughout the unit which can be used for assessment purposes.
Students then go through a process of designing a character and theme for their game, which they can describe in a range of writing types as well as a narrative style backstory, where students can be super creative with their imagination. This section provides multiple opportunities to engage students in the a range of writing genres through the gameplay of the app. This part of the course is only limited to how long you want to spend on this. It could be done across a week as a summative assessment of the writing genres or over a whole term, covering all explicit teaching of the different genres along the way - it’s entirely up to you.
Evaluating the Audience
Once students have completed their game they then move onto the refining and feedback from peers. They need to record classmates observations and constructive feedback and make any changes if necessary. You may notice that they will not change anything, so I will have them justify why they do not agree with the suggested changes - some interesting justifications have come from this. This section can also be integrated into mathematics to collect and graph data on peer responses to their game as well.
The fun continues as students now become the advertisers for their game. This can come in a range of modes from written, video or poster form. This engages students in being able to write persuasively to convince the audience to play/purchase their game. Students are encouraged to create an iMovie trailer which includes persuasive devices, video gameplay and some small acting (kids love acting). There is also the ability to create a print advertisement, which students can use to link their iMovie trailer using a QR code to make a great display of interactive posters around your learning area.
Throughout the course students are encouraged to document their progress and reflections using Book Creator as a design portfolio. This is a great way for teachers to collect formative assessment along the whole design process as students are required to document their learning in written, verbal or photo/video form. Each element of the writing process can be assessed as individual pieces of work and can be stand alone assessments in their own right. The completed Book Creator project can be used as a summative assessment type for teachers purpose, however can also be easily shared to peers and parents for feedback on the whole project.
Get the iTunesU Course
We're excited to have recently released the first 4 episodes of our brand new YouTube video series, 'Block Party'!
This brand new, weekly variety show hosted by Danny, Joey and Jon features great content from the Bloxels Infinity Wall, tips, tricks, random challenges between the hosts, special guest and more! Tune in each week starting late September 2016.
Click here to start watching on YouTube!
The Pixel Press team was excited to show off Bloxels at the first ever Murmuration Festival in St. Louis this past weekend. It was a great day of creating, playing, and sharing for all that came by the booth.
A special thanks to the Biome School for teaming up with us and also to all that stopped by and got to see the power of Bloxels!
Also Thanks to RJ Hartbeck for the great photos.
The Pixel Press team had the chance to attend the 2016 Gamestop "Building Our Future" event in Anaheim, California in September. Check out a few of the photos from the event below, and a huge thanks to the Gamestop store managers and fans who came by the booth.
You'll find Bloxels in many Gamestop stores this holiday season. Click here for a store directory and be sure to call ahead to make sure Bloxels is available!
You're going BACK TO SCHOOL, educators! We've got a lot in store with some great news - keep reading for the latest and greatest from Bloxels!
Bloxels EDU Facebook Community
Please join the new Bloxels EDU Facebook Community this school year. This is an open group - designed for educators to share Bloxels lesson ideas, feedback, and all the great things that they do in their classrooms to empower students with video games.
For those considering Bloxels in their classrooms and schools, this group of innovative educators can help illustrate that Bloxels is the ultimate STEAM education tool - with amazing digital storytelling and collaborative features.
Once you're logged into your Facebook account, go to www.facebook.com/bloxelsedu to join!
Bloxels EDU Lesson Plans & Activities
The Pixel Press educator in residence, Robert Kalman, has been hard at work this summer curating content area-specific lesson plans that teachers can utilize in their classrooms with Bloxels. Several Bloxels EDU Ambassadors, including Jill Badalamenti, Karie Huttner, and Richard Campbell made contributions as well!
Bloxels at the Apple Distinguished
Educator Summit in Berlin
Bloxels was all the rage at the 2016 ADE Summit in Berlin. Several BloxelsEDU Ambassadors and advocates presented about Bloxels, including Mark Anderson, Steve Bambury, Michael Lang and Coby Reynolds. These awesome educators love Bloxels, and wanted all of their ADE peeps to know how amazing Bloxels is too. Check out a few highlights of the #ADE2016 Twitter action below.
Team Builder 5-Pack Contest
We're running a special #BackToSchool Contest on Twitter so that one lucky educator and classroom can begin using Bloxels with his/her students during the 2016-17 school year ASAP! To enter, please follow the instructions below:
Stay tuned here for more great content and offers, and be sure to follow along on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Also, remember to rate and review Bloxels Builder on the Google, Apple and Kindle app stores. Your feedback is important to us!
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about your order, using Bloxels, or just to drop us a note. We're here to help.
- The Pixel Press Team
The designer of the latest "Poultry Panic" game in the upcoming Bloxels v1.4 release, Connor Brown, has put together 10 Tips for our aspiring Bloxels designers. See a preview of his game below and check out his 10 tip!
1. Think about making objects that requires more than one board of space to complete. This will help give objects, platforms, and terrain in your levels greater depth and detail.
2. Think about your color palette in your level. Does it have a cool or warm theme? Having a preset color palette will help give your level flow and overall design strength.
3. Incorporate animations into your level design. Having a combination of stationary boards and animations can help break up your level with interesting things to look at.
4. Avoid having an area with repetitive boards. In other words, avoid filling an area with the same board. Incorporating various different boards with the same theme. This will help get rid of those eye sore areas.
5. Even though its fun to have simple hallways and paths, avoid the classic one block tunnels that use the same board for everything. Think about more intricate paths with various height levels.
6. Think about form with your art boards. Adding shading can always help whatever you are creating pop out more or add to the level of detail.
7. Adding secrets can always make a level even more successful. This gives the player an incentive to go back and replay your level or spend more time searching around. This gives a higher appreciation to what your level shows rather than someone running right past an object you may have spent hours creating.
8. Create a story that draws the player in. Mystery, drama, and action are always a go to when it comes to story telling. Having story blocks can help develop a thicker love for your level as players will become more engaged with what your level has to offer.
9. Make a level difficult, but not impossible. (Unless that’s what you’re going for of course!) Try to avoid those easy straight-line levels you can complete in seconds. Add some jumps, and maybe a path that isn’t so obvious but can be found with a little bit of searching.
10. Plan out your level before you jumping in to create it. Having a base idea and layout for your game helps you have a good workflow.
A big thanks to Connor for putting together these tips! Share your comments below if you have additional tips.
This past weekend Bloxels visited Earth Explorer Toys in Zionsville, Indiana (30 minutes outside of Indianapolis). Store owner Terri Brackens invited us to visit their store and invited 10 children (ages 6-11) to come and build games with Bloxels.
The children spent the first hour building their own games with Bloxels, and the last 30 minutes working together to build a super game together.
See below for images of their game and Pixel Press co-founder Robin Rath playing the game they built.
Click on an image to expand.
Building with STL Super Heroes
Last weekend, the Bloxels team assembled at the St. Louis Public Library Downtown to celebrate the Mini-Comic Con and build some awesome video games with the many comic book heroes and villains that attended!
Our booth was filled the minute we started setting up! There was never a dull moment during the Con. Countless kids and kids-at-heart flocked to the Bloxels booth to see what all the buzz was about, and were immediately hooked. Many folks even visited the booth more than once, continuing the game they started building earlier!
Parents were shocked when the kids would ask to stay longer at the booth when there was a whole convention still waiting to be experienced. "Five more minutes" turned into 20+ for most, and some moms had to pull the kids away from the Bloxels Booth so they could see the rest of the Comic con!
We had a blast building with you all Comic-con goers! Big thanks to the St. Louis Public Library for hosting the super awesome Mini-Comic Con!
Tech Trends for Teachers!
Last week, the Bloxels team ventured out to Columbia, MO for Technopalooza at Battle High School, a free event for teachers and educators to learn about and explore the latest and greatest in educational tech toys!
We received great feedback from the many teachers and educators who attended. Eyes widened and jaws dropped once they saw their creations come to life before their eyes in seconds. We even had a builder so engaged with Bloxels, he hung out with us at our booth the whole event! We even got a spot on the legendary STEAM bus! Check them out: @CPSSteamBus
It was awesome talking to all the teachers and educators about the magic of Bloxels. Huge thanks to Battle High School for having us at Technopalooza!
Summer doesn't stop us from Building!
Last week, we got to build video games with the YMCA Bellville Summer Camp and the Lab Revolution 4-H Club in Farmington, MO!
From solo builders to team building, these kids had an incredible knack for building video games. A team of four got together and built a 4 room game together which they titled "A Link Between Worlds" (not to be confused with the Legend of Zelda title). An animator/game designer team built an awesome game featuring a dancing worm as the hero and evil unicorns as the enemies!
Congrats to 13-bit Builder Garrett for winning our Box set raffle!
It was a blast building with you all, Bellville YMCA and Lab Revolution 4H club!
Last week, we hung out with the College School in Webster Groves to build some awesome video games with Bloxels! Telling the kids that they were going to be building a video game today made their eyes glow, and right when we gave them the boards and blocks, they immediately started building. Some of them even recognized us from Vat19's "Peep This: Bloxels" video!
Some built in teams while some built solo, but all the games and creations they made were nothing short of amazing. A team of four got together and built one game room each, combining them to make one big 4 room game!
It's always incredible to see kids coming together to collaborate and create with Bloxels. Thank you so much for having us College School! Can't wait to build with you all again soon!
Education, Tech, and a whole lot of Coffee
Last week, we traveled to the great land of Colorado to join over 15,000 educators from across the globe for the International Society for Technology in Education convention at the Denver Convention Center and WOW was it a blast.
Though we didn't have an Expo hall booth, Bloxels was recognized everywhere! We were active in events and playgrounds throughout the pre-conference and ISTE schedule in Denver. Our participation in ISTE 2016 included the Mobile Megashare Pre-Conference, inclusion in the iSchool Digital Learning Revolution Tour Bus, several ISTE PLN Playgrounds, and Vicki Treadway's Digital Storytelling Poster Session. It was very rewarding to see so many educators eager to empower the students in their schools, classrooms, and Makerspaces with Bloxels!
STEAM education (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) has been a recent focus of many educators, and Bloxels excited many as it truly epitomizes every aspect of STEAM learning!
The hands-on experience of building and designing your very own video game resonated well with the educators, and they all couldn't wait to get this amazing tool into their students hands.
Bloxels received nearly all positive feedback and excitement from educators from around the world for its accessible game creation. It was were even featured, alongside Pixel Press's other video game building app “Floors”, in the eBook "Learning STEM From Play" by Kurt Klynen, a guide to the best STEM learning tools to bring into the classroom! You can view our blog post about this amazing eBook here.
Game Based Learning...with Coffee!
Bloxels presented at the inaugural CoffeeGBL, a discussion about game-based learning at Backstage Coffee, one of Denver's local coffee shops. When it was announced that Bloxels was going to present, there were only about 50 seats available for reservation. Those 50 seats were reserved in a matter of days. With the overwhelming requests to squeeze a few more seats in, we had expanded the guest list to about 70, which filled up again in a matter of days. The CoffeeGBL attendees had a great time building and creating with bloxels. All the responses were overwhelmingly positive, and some lucky educators even got to take home a set from our raffle!
We had a great time sharing the magic of Bloxels with all the amazing teachers and educators at ISTE 2016. Congratulations to all who got to take home a set from our raffles and giveaways! Kitty Tripp (@Kitty_Tripp) was the winner of our #BloxelsEDU Team-Builder 5-Pack Contest on Twitter. Once she has gotten a chance to implement Bloxels with her students, she plans to share how our platform has impacted her students and classroom. See you all next year!!!
Version 1.3.1 is live!
Our brand new update, 1.3.1, is now live, and tagging along with our awesome new app logo comes a brand new feature: Infinity View!
We've seen a ton of amazing content being added onto the Infinity Wall. Some of which are so big, they take up multiple tiles! Now, you can expand Infinity Wall tiles so larger art pieces can be viewed in its entirety!
Explore the Infinity Wall and check out the incredible multi-tile content with Infinity View!
Want to add more to your Bloxels building experience? We've got you covered.
The 200 Additional block set is now available on our online store! Enhance your building and pick one up today!
Save the City!
This Featured Friday goes out to BlackThunder for his awesome game, "Operation War Torn"! Help Arnold save his town and fight your way past the evil soldiers!
Check out BlackThunder's game "Operation War Torn" and more on the Bloxels Infinity Wall!
Bloxels Builder Update 1.3
We've made some big changes to the Bloxels Builder experience!
*New* - New Homescreen and Story Game, "Poultry Panic"
*New* - Challenge Modes for Game Builder and Hero Builder
*Optimizations* - Graphics and Performance Updates - Various other bug fixes and optimizations
Poultry Panic: Somethings came over the world's chickens and now they're all evil! It's up to Ugly Sweater Kitty to save the world from the sinister chickens who want to take over in this new Story Mode game!
Challenge Modes: Think you've got what it takes to be a 13-bit builder??? Try out the Game Builder and Hero Builder challenges to see if your building skills are up to par!
Thinking like Game Designers and Artists
"Alright everyone, its time to clean up!" said Ms. Panneri, the counselor at the Think Camp.
"But we're not done!" shouted one of the kids.
"But you've been playing Bloxels for 2 hours now!" Ms. Panneri responded.
"We want 2 more!"
On Thursday, we got to build with the kids at the Wilson School Think Camp! These super smart builders were creating some amazing characters and levels. It was great to see some collaboration in making their games!
At the end of the session, each of the builders got to showcase their creations on the big screens. When asked who wanted to showcase their creations, all of the kids raised their hands and wanted to show off their games and characters!! Building was a blast, but being able to share their content was the highlight of their day.
A big thanks Wilson School and Malika Panneri for having us!