Mason Game & Technology Academy

News Archive


Why Is Minecraft Modding So Popular?

MGTA Program Director Vera Lichtenberg explains why our Minecraft Modding courses are in such high demand all year round – Fall, Spring and Summer. Students (and parents) rush to claim their spot before the infamous “Please Join the Waitlist” message appears.

(Please note that we encourage you to join the waitlist if a course is full, as we are often able to contact you when a space opens up or if additional space becomes available!)

In a recent interview featured in Northern Virginia magazine, Ms. Lichtenberg provided some insights into the Minecraft Modding phenomenon:

“Our Minecraft Modding classes provide a unique student driven programming experience, where our students are able to progress from introductory to advanced Java programming. First, they learn to edit Java code, and then move more deeply into Java programming, while creating increasingly more complex and customized Minecraft Mods.

We know our program is a success because our students keep returning – we even have High School students who have taken our courses come back and tell us that they learned coding tricks that they used in their AP programming classes. Additionally, parents tell us that they don’t want screen time to be a lonely experience for their kids, and they appreciate the opportunity for their kids to socialize with other like-minded kids.

Our students enjoy working together on projects, and they get a chance to present their work to their peers. This experience instills confidence, enhances communication and collaboration skills, and best of all, in many cases, builds lasting friendships.”

Although the Spring Minecraft course is already full, the Summer camp courses are now open for registration. Don’t dealy – claim your spot today. You can also take advantage of our Split Payment option, where you pay half now, and the other half is charged on June 1st!



Potomac Arts Academy. Photo by Evan Cantwell/Creative Services/George Mason University

The Mason Game & Technology Academy (MGTA) is excited to tell you about some new developments, including a visiting Fullbright Scholar in the Spring and updates on our summer camps.


MGTA Summer Camps in Loudoun

For the second year, a selection of MGTA Summer Prep courses will be held in Loudoun county, at the Mason in Loudoun location (next to the NoVA campus).


Fullbright Scholar Visits MGTA Classes

MGTA welcomes a visiting Fulbright scholar Tania from Spain to our Spring 2016 weekend classes, giving our students the opportunity to learn about her research study: using serious games as educational tools in the classroom. Several MGTA students will be participating in her research and their ideas will be a part of her research!

“I am doing research on the potential of digital games to engage youth in environmental issues,” said Tania. “The Mason Game & Technology Program at GMU targeting youth is a wonderful initiative, and I would like to take this chance to conduct a short group discussion with students. I would like to put them in the role of game designers and researchers who have been asked to develop an environmental game. They will brainstorm on how we can learn from successful games and how we can apply their characteristics for educational purposes.”

Javascript and C++ Summer Programs – Student Driven Experiences

“The Java and C++ classes offered by the Mason Game and Technology Academy focus largely on learning to code through the creation of a series of programming challenges, tailored to each student’s learning pace and experience,” said course instructor Kevin Pfeifle. “Students work in small teams and learn what it is like to work on a group programming project, providing them real world experience. The teams work on text-based ASCII challenges of their choosing, which allows for a unique student driven experience where the student’s learning is paced by their ability to problem solve. This also creates a dynamic learning experience where the students can learn beyond the curriculum, based entirely on their drive to learn more and create a more complex game.”

Impressive ASCII Project’s that students have done in past classes:

  • Battleship
  • Chess
  • Recursive Random Maze Generator
  • Rogue
  • 2048
  • Text-Adventure Games

Core Concepts Covered in the Java/C++ classes:

  • Input/Output
  • Boolen Logic/Conditional Statements
  • Looping (For and While)
  • Functions/Methods (Static and Dynamic)
  • Arrays
  • Try/Catch
  • Classes/Objects (Static and Dynamic)



Personal Cyber Security Summer Program

MGTA is pleased to offer a new course in Cyber Security, Personal Cyber Defense, which helps students to protect themselves in the ever-growing on-line world we live in.

“There are basic things that I believe every person should know to be able to protect themselves, their families, and their friends from various cyber attacks, which is the main goal of this course,” said course instructor Yusif Atayev. “The class will cover a variety of topics ranging from the basics of security to applying security measures to various devices in order to help students develop skills that they can apply in their personal lives.”



SCRIYB Online Learning Coming Soon

Back by popular demand – MGTA Scriyb on-line classes will be offered this summer and fall! Classes are taught in real time, and students will be able to engage directly with the instructor, and with each other. MGTA-Scriyb courses capture the energy and magic of a live classroom, along with the peer-to-peer social learning that makes online learning like playing a game, and so much fun! More information coming soon…


Mailing Address:
Mason Game and Technology Academy
Virginia Serious Game Institute
10900 University Blvd.,
Bull Run Hall Ste 147
Manassas, VA 20110

Phone: (703)993-7101

Email: MGTA Founding Director: Vera Lichtenberg,
MGTA Admin Assistant: Nerissa Hart,