Debbie Williams, Computer Science, IT and Creative iMedia Subject Advisor
For our Cambridge National in Creative iMedia you must choose one optional unit to deliver. All the optional units are non-examined assessment (NEA) where students are required to complete a set assignment.
In a series of blogs, I hope to give you a flavour of each unit to help you decide which would best meet your learners’ interests and needs.
All the units follow the same process where students plan, make and review a product. The only difficulty you should have, is choosing which one to deliver – I would love to teach them all!
For unit R099, students must design, create and test a digital game as well as produce game design documents (GDDs) to meet a client brief. Students will learn to create pre-production and game design documentation as well as develop the tools and techniques to create an effective digital game and persuasive GDDs. They will also learn how to test their game and suggest improvements and further developments to both the game and GDDs.
Students need to know the characteristics of digital games. They need to explore the different types of games such as 2D arcade and 3D RPG and know which work best on different platforms and for specific target audiences. They need to be familiar with different game genres, gameplay styles and visual styles. Students well also need to identify the objective of different games, for example: are they a quest, race or beat the clock? Some students will already have this knowledge and be very familiar with digital games.
Students do not need to be able write about the theory or the conventions of games, just have an underpinning understanding. As it is a Cambridge National qualification, they need to be able to apply their knowledge and demonstrate their originality and creativity to the digital game and GDDs they produce.
The mandatory examined unit R093 includes synoptic topic areas including client requirements, audience demographics, ideas generation and the planning of media products. This needs to be taught before or as part of R099. Without it, students may find aspects of the NEA difficult as it forms the basis of task 1.
Much of the content of R093, which applies to all media products, will need to be applied in this unit. For example, the teaching content for topic area 3.2 in R093 covers mind maps and mood boards. Students will need to have the understanding and skills to create a mind map, for example to identify ideas that meet the client brief or a mood board to show their theme for the digital game.
When it comes to the pre-production planning for their digital game students will need to use a range of techniques to plan. They should be able to choose from concept art, flowcharts, story arc and decision trees. They also need to understand and be able to apply the concept of minimum viable product (MVP) during the planning stage. It’s important in the teaching phase that they have had chance to practice these methods. You could ask students to explore an existing game and produce the pre-production planning documents for it.
Students should also be taught to create or source assets and provide details in an assets table. We provide a template for this and students should be taught to complete it and strongly encouraged to use it in their NEA task.
Topic area 2 for this unit has two products that students will need to create; the digital game and the game design documents (GDDs). Students will need to produce GDDs for the client to essentially sell their digital game. Topic 2.1 of the specification on page 97 gives clear guidance on what this document should contain. There is also an example in the R099 candidate style work on Teach Cambridge.
The digital game is the second product they need to produce. It is important to emphasis with students that for this unit the playable game and the GDD are of equal merit. A strong GDD and a simple but functional game would be as suitable for the purposes of the assessment as a simplistic GDD and a complex and technically sound game.
As with all the other units, it is important – and reflected in the mark criteria – that students create and/or edit all the assets they are going to use in the game before importing them for use in the game. Their marks may be limited if they edit/create assets within the game that they hadn’t prepared beforehand.
There are several options you could consider using when it comes to which software to use.
For the game design document standard office software such as a word processor or presentation package would be suitable, for example:
We recommend using image editing software to create or edit visual assets, the same as is used for the mandatory R094 unit. The skills and techniques students need for both units are similar.. Software you may consider using includes:
When creating or repurposing the audio assets, you may consider using:
When repurposing the moving image assets (video or animations) you may consider using:
To design the digital game product itself, you could consider using:
Lots of other software applications are available. If you aren’t sure whether the one you want to use is suitable, you could check the specification for the skills and tools listed and see if the software has the tools needed. If you are still unsure you could contact our support centre.
The specification (page 98) lists the tools and technical skills that students could use to create their digital game. You would need to give students time to learn and practice these in the teaching and learning phase before issuing the NEA tasks. Good practice would be to provide students with a copy of the specification during the NEA so they know which skills they need to evidence through screenshots to get higher mark bands. They don’t need to use them all, but we would expect them to demonstrate a wide range within the creation of their product.
It is not always clear what tools and techniques students have used during the creation of the product. If a student only provides their finished digital game, it would be really difficult to award marks above MB1 in strand 2a and 2b. Teaching how to use screenshots to evidence techniques used (but not a step-by-step guide) would be worthwhile.
Students will also be required to save and export their digital game in suitable formats. This again links back to R093 and topic area 2.2: (properties of digital graphics), so teaching for this would be worthwhile early in the course. If this is an issue for centres due to their network set up, for example, because the export is an .exe file please contact us and we can offer further guidance – this should not prevent you offering this unit to students.
Once the GDDs and digital game is complete, the final part of the NEA is to test the game and review both, before offering improvements and further developments. We provide a test table template that students can use to test such things as their navigation, interactivity, scoring and object movement.
Students are required to write a review covering both the digital game and the GDDs, assessing the appropriateness for the audience, purpose and client as well as conventions of the product. This needn’t be a lengthy document.
The final part of strand three is to identify areas for improvement (ways to make the content that is already present more effective) and further developments (what could be added, done differently, or reformatted differently in a future product). Students are not expected to correct any areas for improvement or make any developments, just identify and comment on them.
I hope this has given you a good idea of what R099 is all about. We also have a scheme of work that could provide further guidance on planning this unit.
If you have any questions, you can email us at email@example.com, call us on 01223 553998 or tweet us @OCR_ICT. You can also sign up to subject updates and receive information about resources and support.
Debbie joined the computing team in September 2022, bringing her knowledge as a teacher and subject leader for IT, Computing and Creative Media. She has over 20 years’ experience of education working in various settings including state schools, private specialist provision, local authority, and as a marker and moderator for exam boards. She has a degree in Technology Management, a PGCE and a Masters in Teaching and Learning.