Preteen boys huddle around computers playing video games, taking a break when Mom brings out the Bagel Bites. The Tera Byte video game creation camp may sound like the perfect summer escape for a gaming geek, but there’s much more to it than that. The boys aren’t just playing video games. They’re building them.

“I think that kids love video games, and they don’t really get a chance to create their own,” Zach Galant says. He was in eighth grade at the Greenhill School when he launched Tera Byte in 2004. Now, he’s studying computer science at Stanford University, and his little brother, 13-year-old Jake, has taken over as the camp’s on-site director in his Preston Hollow garage-turned-computer lab.

Four Greenhill students work as counselors at the camp, which is open to students in third through eighth grades. During each one-week course, campers use Multimedia Fusion, a program that doesn’t require coding. Their first assignment is to create Pong, one of the simplest and earliest arcade games. Next, they move on to fighting games, building levels and setting specific actions for each character via the program’s storyboard.

Photo by Benjamin Hager

“A good game should be difficult, addictive and involve strategy,” Jake says. While some consider gaming to be an anti-social activity, the close-knit Tera Byte group proves the opposite. The camp includes several scheduled breaks when the boys play basketball outside or go swimming in the backyard pool.

The skills the students learn through Tera Byte extend beyond the computer lab. For a class project on Hercules, Jake and his group opted to create a video game presentation in which the hero must slay the Nemean lion.

“The teacher recognized the extra effort we put in. We all got a 100,” he says. “That’s what games can do.”

Tera Byte is open to any students in grades 3-8. The next camps run August 8-12 and August 15-19 at 4444 Gloster. The cost is $399. For more details, call Zach Galant at 214.957.3273 or visit terabytegames.com.


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