HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - There are many kids that don't want to play sports and for a long time their options for after school activities we're limited. There is a place in Huntsville that is perfect for kids who may not love playing sports but have a passion for video games.
Carl Holden enjoys creating video games and since May of 2018 he's been sharing that passion with kids in Huntsville who are looking for a place to belong.
"They come to me and say I'm not good at sports, I am not good at these things, and this is exactly what I've been looking for," said Holden, CEO of Video Game Design Club. "I've had members here come and tell me this is one of the few places they feel like they fit in."
Now Holden has relocated to UAH where is he is partnering with the school to offer more learning opportunities for members.
"I've already been starting talks with the professor over games design the professors over education. I want to bring them in as well so we can grow this," said Holden.
These kids aren't just playing games or even creating them. They are gaining skills they're going to be able to use in the future when they are applying for jobs.
"Here at video game design club you can learn things like coding and project management and pushing through and finishing something that you start those are all skills we use as an adult," said Holden.
Lleyton Oakes is an 8th grader who says he's seen a change in himself since joining the club in 6th grade.
"I did learn patience. I am very patient," said Lleyton.
"He has learned patience because he's had to work on projects for multiple weeks or months and so it's taught him that it is a process and so it's ok to not have everything right at the beginning or not even to have all the answers," says Elaine Oakes, Lleyton's mother.
As Video Game Design Club grows, Holden wants to offer the program to more kids.
"I am also interested one day in offering stem education to underserved markets and especially well... let's face it a game designer right now looks like this. It looks like this, there is not a lot of diversity," says Holden
And that's something he wants to change.
"In the game design industry only 20% is female so even just gender diversity is important, but there is a lot of diversity outside of that as well that needs to change and if we can find opportunities to teach our children now," said Holden. "They are the future workforce. They are the ones that are going to be designing games in less than 5 to 10 years."
That way everyone like him can have a place to belong.
"And that's really important for me because... I was them and um but I didn't have a place and I want to create a place for them," said Holden.
If you are interested in joining the Video Game Design Club you can find more information on their facebook page.
The club meets Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. There is also a home school session on Wednesdays from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. Every month they have a networking party where all members play video games together for four hours straight.
The classes are open to anyone ages 8 to 18.
Members must have a laptop, and they are given the software to download on to their computer.