|2018 Coding and Gaming Day at the Madison
Getting a Jump on Hi Tech
By Hedi Rudd
Anticipation has been building amongst students and parents for the first ever Coding
and Gaming Day, held this year at Madison Public Library on Mifflin St. Mayor Soglin
welcomed the students and acknowledged the gaming and technology companies that
were a part of the event, as well as 100 Black Men of Madison and the event
organizers, Urban League of Madison.
Dr. Ruben Anthony, president and CEO of the Urban League, also greeted the young
people and thanked sponsors, partners, and parents for their support. He acknowledged
that this was the first Coding & Gaming Day and the intent is to make it an annual event.
Dr. Anthony welcomed Alder. Maurice Cheeks, who has an extensive background in
Information Technology. Alder Cheeks shared that his dream as a young person was not
to be an alder, but to play basketball or work for Apple or a video game company. “I
didn’t know anyone who had ever done those things. I didn’t even know anyone who
had been to California.” Growing up in the suburbs of Chicago, Cheeks went on to
college and was able to attain an internship working for Apple, which brought him to
Cheeks is now the vice president of business development at MIOsoft, a big data and
quality analytics company located in Madison. He shared how excited he was that the
young people in the room, were being provided this opportunity and he hoped that this
would result in their having people to show them the way to realize their possible tech
dreams. “This is the age that kids either tune in or tune out.” Cheeks stated, noting that
this was the perfect age to capture their interest.
Students were introduced to the companies presenting workshops and a brief overview
for the grant funding. To fulfill their goals, ULGM partnered with 100 Black Men of Madison and tech partners to create the Coding and Gaming Day to provide a
platform to support the dreams of young men and women who might see a future in technology.
“We are also able to provide two meals today, which is helpful when school and community centers are closed,” noted Ragland. “We also hope to have a similar
event for older adults, 18-24, who may also be interested in careers in technology.”
Anthony expanded on that by sharing, “We were hoping to introduce them to science, arts, technology in a user-friendly manner and gaming in a natural way.”
Anthony noted that there is a big demand for these types of opportunities, which was demonstrated by the STEAM Camp hosted by the Urban League last summer.
of each one. Options included narrative game
design with twine, presented by Filament Games;
coding and art with GEAR Learning UW-Madison;
integrating live-action animation into games using
motion capture with Acme Nerd Games; converting
motion into data animation with MadMaker, circuits
and soldering with DANEnet and World Build with
UDK presented by Madison Public Libraries Media
Enis Ragland, deputy mayor and member of 100
Black Men of Madison, provided background on
how the day came together. My Brother’s Keeper
was an initiative created and still supported by
former President Obama via the Obama Foundation.
The city of Madison is a recipient of funding and the
Urban League of Greater Madison is the contractor
“It’s a win-win situation for the gaming and technology industry, a
win-win for partners like Herzing College, who provide
instruction in this area and for the Urban League and the students
Lunch was provided by Chik-Fil-A and Herzing College, who
provided pizza by Roman Candle.
Participant Malik Williams expressed his thoughts on the day, “I
think it’s amazing for kids of color to learn how to code, because
people of color don’t get chances like this, or really a shot at life.
Hopefully, people who want to code or make games will
participate and one day get a job.” He shared that he had
previously taken a SCRATCH class and was interested in
learning more about making animation.
Alder Maurice Cheeks noted that on his commute to the event,
his driver asked if he was going to the “Gaming Event” and
expressed the excitement amongst community members to
attend. A waiting list of over 60 young people, suggests that there
is a desire to see this event happen again. If the votes of the
young people in attendance count, it certainly will.