Jacob Riddle Mentors Coeur D’Alene Tribal Game Design Interns


A GIF of a Bitsy Game A GIF of a Bitsy Game

By: Max Ciot

For the second summer in a row the Coeur d’Alene Tribe’s Department of Education collaborated alongside Washington State University to host a paid internship program targeted towards youth tribal members. The program lasted for three weeks and was designed to give youth the important skills and the academic footing they need in order to become future leaders within the Coeur D’Alene (CDA) Tribe. There were three internship tracks interns could choose from: (1) Game Design and Coding, (2) Photography, or (3) Arts & Animation.

Tony Brave was the lead for the Game Design and Coding track within the internship program. He worked closely alongside Michelle ReBecca who supervised and was in support of the track from the CDA Department of Education and DTC faculty member Jacob Riddle. In Brave’s words, Jacob “Enriched the program with his expertise and experience with game design software and coding.” The group used an open source game creation/editing program called Bitsy. Jacob focused on how he could expand the possibilities of each platform they worked on by using coding and how they code use these platforms to teach it.

The internship group was small and diverse and reacted in different ways to content within the program, resonating individually with different skills and lessons they learned. As stated by Brave, what they hoped was for the interns to come away with “not just the skills of working with one game making tool or another, but the belief in themselves that they can be successful if they just put in the effort, as well as the importance of communication.”

The mentors within the Game Design and Coding internship track recall the growth the interns showed in the program, as well as their ability to adapt in an environment that guides their growth. For example, one intern during his first iteration of his game articulated that he felt it was not very good. After one of the feedback sessions the internship hosted it was clear that his game provided a numerous amount of quirky and fun elements such as a time travelling cat and a possible murder mystery. At the end of feedback sessions such as these, the intern commonly seem to be glowing with pride and an increased sense of confidence. His game was initially a mere two rooms, but after getting feedback, he’d added multiple rooms. He had even created a maze through which the character had to navigate through a series of caves with only the light of a candle. In addition, Easter eggs were hidden throughout the game that conveyed the positive message of “anything is possible” which, according to Brave, is the type of message the program hoped to impart in the next generation of Native youth.

You can play some of the Bitsy games the interns created here.