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GDC Speaker Q&A: Roblox's Genevieve C. Johnson uses games to educate

At the 2019 Game Developer's Conference, you can look forward to an amazing array of talks from speakers across the video game industry. Across the week, you'll hear from industry legends, niche experts and amazing advocates, many of whom will want to learn about you and your work as much as you do theirs. 

During this year's Advocacy track, you'll get to hear Roblox's Genevieve C. Johnson discuss the making of Roblox's Jurassic World educational challenge. To introduce you to Johnson before her talk, we reached out to her for a quick Q&A you can now read below. 

Would you please introduce yourself and talk about your role in game development?

I'm Genevieve C. Johnson, the Senior Instructional Designer at Roblox, where it's my job to empower students to learn how to code and create games on the Roblox platform which in turn assures we have more great game developers in the future. I have 10 years experience creating courseware featuring a variety of game engines, 3D software such as Autodesk Maya, and programming languages.

Without spoiling it, what will you be talking about at GDC?

Our desire to create a strong, diverse developer community led to the creation of a self-paced tutorial on how to make a game on the Roblox platform.  The program resulted in over 4.5 million page views and more than 270,000 new games published for the platform. I'll talk about why it was important to Roblox to do this, how we scaffold curriculum to keep students motivated, and some of the learnings we had along the way. All of the concepts in this talk are principles I think about when creating courseware for new developers of any age or for any game engine. Some of them are concepts that don't get talked about enough in education, like progression curves and peak-end theory.

What excites you most about the future of game development?

I'm excited for a future where the games industry  sees more stories that are authentic to the human experience. I want game development to be just like literature and music, where the imagination and experiences of every culture and walk of life are represented. The game engines and technology we have today allow for a democratization of game development like we've never seen before and it is my job to ensure the next generation of developers are getting the resources they need to learn, be creative, and ultimately have fun.

What's something about your specific field you want your colleagues to know more about?

Instructional design and game design have so many similarities. They're both about motivating people to learn new skills and keeping them motivated.

Tell us about your favorite project you worked on in the last year. 

It was only just this past year that we launched Roblox Education. I think a lot of educators muse on how they might reach even a few more students, and I feel really lucky to be part of something that's working at such scale. The initiative has given me the chance to meet and collaborate with so many great educators and organizations around the world who are looking to empower students. This is also the first time in my career that all of my work is available for anyone to use, and at no cost. Now, I can finally show my parents what I do.

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