Getting started on your GamesCon journey

Elsewhere in this blog you will find links to great online resources such as CodeClub (https://codeclub.org/en/ ) Hour of Code ( https://code.org/learn) and more will be added throughout the year

We encourage everyone involved in the competition: young people, teachers, support staff and parents or carers to read the posts on the blog.

This post is to look at the project development from initial registration to your hopeful attendance at RGU in June 2020.

Some of the ideas below are simply bullet point tips, that could be used as topic headings or conversation starters for you new teams. Other ideas have a little more text to help you and the young people in the team.

Tips for initial team discussions

You may find that you will end up with more than a single team, that will be a bonus as it generates a greater interest in the discipline around software development and collaboration, and competition between the youngsters.

Learn together : find out each team members strength, and how they could fit into the team, remember it is not all about coding. Then use these strengths working with each other, learning from each other. Teaching someone is a fantastic way to learn!

Share, Share and Share: great ideas can come to you at any time, share these as soon as you can, keep a digital notebook of your ideas and share these with your team. In and out of school you could use Glow, Onenote in O365 or Keep in G-Suite are great tools.
If you have iPads then the Notes App is great, but you may not have access to your notes at home.

Collaboration:  Ask your teacher to create a Team space in Glow, and then you can plan and organise meetings, have different channels for the different areas of your project for example: Coding, Design, Graphics, Advertising, Documents, and so on and this can be accessed anywhere you have internet access.

The image shows a Team site with headings for Meetings, Storyboards, Artwork, Algorithms and so on. It would be up to your team to decide what your priorities would be.

Remember to include photos, video and Audio of your project as it develops.

 

Leadership: Every team needs someone to move the team and the project on. This is a difficult aspect in developing your team, so you may want to rotate this role, so you all get a feeling for the importance and challenges in the role. It may not be for you, and that is fine, but you will have gained experience and that is good.

First meeting of the teams (Brainstorming meeting)

You will have already had initial discussions, found out each others strengths and weaknesses, and now you may have the makings of a great team.

Your first agenda for the meeting will be all about the project (and you won’t need to be accessing Scratch!)

At that first meeting you should be looking at the competition rules and what you are going to have produce. You will have previously read the 5 rights documents, and you will have copies available for you during the meeting ( https://5rightsfoundation.com/the-5-rights/ )

A quick reminder:

  1. The RIGHT to remove
  2. The RIGHT to know
  3. The RIGHT to safety and support
  4. The RIGHT to informed and conscious use
  5. The RIGHT to digital literacy

You are then going to needs lots of bits of paper and pencils to brainstorm the project, some of the topics could include:

  • Game / Animation ideas
  • What questions do you need to find answers to?
  • The audience you are targeting (children, adults, parents , all of those?)
  • Do you think the solution should be quite visual, or will it require lots of text or a mixture of both?
  • What elements of the 5 Rights you will focus on
  • The resources you will need, for example  : stationary, computer time, software, help, time, art and craft materials, budget (very important)
  • Job roles and responsibilities within the team
  • Can you describe the problem you are presented with in just 1 sentence?
  • …and more

 

Planning meetings

The purpose of these meetings is to work out the finer details of your Scratch project, and whether it is to be a game, and if its a game what type of game, or if it is to be an animation.

A good Scratch application will be easy to use, will this be by using the keyboard, or the mouse, or both?

Think about accessibility, and if you can address any accessibility issues. The common mistakes we have seen is text that is very small, or text that has poor contrast with the background (eg blue text on black background)

Please remember that as this stage you DO NOT need to be writing code or working on Scratch, this is all about planning what your final product MAY look like.

Think about how you could promote this project

Remember to photograph and keep all of the documents at this and every stage. The judges will be looking for this documentation


Prototype Meetings

From the planning meetings you will now have a good solid idea of the product you are going to make.

This stage will involve storyboarding your ideas, closely looking at each screen as it will be displayed to the user.

Take a bit of time to sketch out your ideas, and note any interactivity that may be needed.

If you are not good at drawing, then why not use Powerpoint , Slides or Keynote to design each page? You could even use the presenters notes feature to add your comments to each page.

Storyboarding will also show all the links between the scenes/screens in your project, and these can start to give you your ideas on writing the algorithms that you will need.

Your graphic artists will have drawn the characters and backdrops you will need.

Your coders will be writing the algorithms that they will use when you get to the computer for coding

Your researchers will be writing the user instructions for the game/animation

Promotions team will be looking at the best ways to advertise the game, maybe focussing on a ket character, or a key message.

When the algorithms and graphics are complete then you can then build your program. Keep all the notes of any difficulties and errors you encounter and how they were fixed.

Evaluation meetings

You will now have a complete program, so now you will need to fully test it. That will mean giving it to others , not in your team, and importantly you get feedback from these testers, that you record and action

Look at every aspect of your project:

  • Are there instructions on how to play/interact with the program?
  • Does the program work as you designed?
  • Does it look as you expected (graphics should be as professional as possible)
  • Will the user learned something from the 5 Rights?
  • Have you created great advertising material
  • Have you got ALL the documentation (VERY IMPORTANT)
  • What further developments would you plan for your project
  • …and more

and then….go back and check everything again!

Judging Criteria

Last year we were approached to provide some details of what the experienced Competition Judges are looking for when they are assessing the work of the teams.

The judging criteria, looks at lots of elements, not just the final game, but everything that has led up to the production of the final game.

The criteria will be posted here by December 2019 and we hope this will inform all participants.

GamesCon 2020 Primary

 

Aberdeenshire GamesCon 2019/2020

 What is the competition?

GamesCon is a competition for learners in Primary 6 and 7 and is to focus attention on how to keep children and young people safe online. The learners will work in teams of 4 and with help, (maybe  from a teacher or digital leaders in the primary or cluster secondary school)  will create a plan for a project that will be implemented in SCRATCH. The final program will be interactive, it could be a game , or animation.

Learners will record their progress throughout the competition keeping photos, notes, any research findings, program design, testing and debugging findings to bring to the GamesCon final.

GamesCon Aberdeenshire 2019/2020

 The task for this session’s GamesCon competition is organized around the 5Rights Framework: Making the Digital Environment Fit for Children and Childhood. In Teams of 4 for Primary students will create a software solution to the task below.

Using the programming tool you are familiar with (for example, Scratch) you are to create an animation or game that will allow the viewers (if an animation) or the players (if a game) to learn about the 5Rights Framework and its aim to make the digital environment fit for children and childhood (https://5rightsframework.com/).

“The 5Rights Framework articulates the rights and commonly held principles enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child (UNCRC) for the digital world. Rights that protect children from commercial exploitation, offer the highest standards in wellbeing and education. Rights that protect them from violence and harm, and give them privacy.”

The 5Rights are all about enabling children and young people to access the digital environment creatively, knowledgeably and fearlessly.

Almost every young person has access to the internet via Smartphones or other internet enabled devices and it is essential the these young people fully understand the rights they have but also the responsibilities in using online resources safely, securely and responsibly.

By researching the 5Rights program, and by creating an animation or game, the young people are engaging in valuable research but also developing core skills in Computer Science, Digital Literacy, Digital Skills: skills that are transferable and much needed in the workplace.

CodeClub.org (https://www.codeclub.org.uk/) provides easy-to-use templates for teachers and pupils to use and there is a simple set-up for the school. Codeclub.org.uk have full details of how to set up a code club. These are in place in many of our schools. For schools where a code club is not running but who would be keen to consider forming one, Code Club provides all of the advice and support required. It is very straightforward. Most Code Clubs meet once a week, at lunchtime or after school, for around 30 minutes.

The GamesCon competition will allow youngsters opportunities for:

  • Creativity and problem solving
  • Collaboration and contribution
  • Developing computational thinking concepts
  • Expanding their digital literacy skills

Who can compete?

The GamesCon is open to any P6/P7 learners who will work in a team of four.

Each team will typically have a teacher to supervise, and in the team we would suggest a mix of skills:

Graphic designer– someone who will design the characters, backgrounds and foregrounds and any other visual effects, including storyboards

Presenter – someone who will be confident in presenting the project to an audience, he/she may also design posters to demonstrate the work of the team and for the presentation create a Movie/PowerPoint/Prezi/Sway to really show off the work of the group.

 Programmer – someone who has good coding skills and can bring the ideas and storyboards to life

 Document controller – someone to ensure all the document associated with the project are kept safely, this will include all the ideas, sketches and planning documents, scripts used in coding, testing plans and results. This person may want to create a blog to keep track of the project as it moves from ideas to finished product.

 Researcher – someone who will be responsible for researching the ideas and ensuring the finished product is accurate in what it says/aims are.

There may be other roles that the teams will think of, which will mean some team members will be working in more than 1 role.

We would hope that the learners all work as a team, taking a shared responsibility for the finished product and learning from each other.

When will the competition begin?

As soon as the team(s) are ready to go, preferably beginning in November 2019

What is the path to the final at RGU?

The final at RGU will have 1 team from each cluster.

  • If your school has more than 1 team then there will be a competition in the school between the teams to decide the winning team, this will take place before the Easter Holidays
  • The semi finals will take place during May 2020 where a team from each cluster will progress to the grand final at RGU.
  • The overall Aberdeenshire GamesCon Champion team will be decided at RGU in June 2019

The RGU day will allow teams to meet programmers, games developers, students and staff from the RGU computing school. We hope to have representatives from TV and radio to promote the event across Scotland.

How can the teams get access to resources?

There are great tutorial on the SCRATCH site https://scratch.mit.edu/help/videos/

Even SCRATCH resources on the Raspberry Pi site.

https://www.raspberrypi.org/learning/getting-started-with-scratch/

Great resources on the Barefoot computing site http://barefootcas.org.uk

There may be books in your school library, or ask at your local library.

The cluster academy school will have resources, ask for help from senior students, or visit the computing department, if they have one.

SCRATCH is free and can be downloaded to curricular computers, (if it is not installed log a call with Ask Fred).  it can also be accessed online.

Internet safety information can be found by checking the Think U Know site

https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk

Childnet have advice. http://www.childnet.com/young-people/primary

UK Safer Internet Centre.

http://www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-centre/young-people/resources-3-11s

Where does the GamesCon competition fit in the curriculum?

There is a natural fit into the Technologies Computing Science E’s and O’s

The technologies progression framework from Education Scotland

http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/Images/TechnologiesGrid1April2016_tcm4-875946.pdf

Links can also be made to Literacy, Numeracy, Health and Wellbeing and Science outcomes.

Learners will be demonstrating attributes in each of the four capacities, and will be improving on their digital literacy skills.

 

 

GamesCon 2020 Academy Competition

GamesCon Aberdeenshire 2019/2020

The task for this session’s GamesCon competition is organized around the 5Rights Framework: Making the Digital Environment Fit for Children and Childhood. In Teams of 4 students will create a software solution to the task below.

 

Secondary Schools

The theme remains the same: to learn about and promote the 5Rights. However this could be developed from a Scratch programming environment to creating a mobile app. A good site is appsforgood.org (https://www.appsforgood.org/), where a teacher can sign-up and has access to a wealth of lesson plans that will guide students through to creating a mobile app. The benefit of using Apps for Good, is that the students could also enter the National Apps for Good competition in addition to the GamesCon. The secondary competition is open to pupils in S1 – S3, and these youngsters could be mentored by senior pupils throughout the development of the project.

Support and Guidance

The choice of software and hardware is left to the school and the young people, so they could carry on developing a solution in Scratch or use any other software / hardware environment they are comfortable with.

CodeClub.org (https://www.codeclub.org.uk/) provides easy-to-use templates for teachers and pupils to use and there is a simple set-up for the school. Codeclub.org.uk have full details of how to set up a code club. These are in place in many of our schools. For schools where a code club is not running but who would be keen to consider forming one, Code Club provides all of the advice and support required. It is very straightforward. Most Code Clubs meet once a week, at lunchtime or after school, for around 30 minutes.

 

 Teams

 A team will be made up of 4 students and preferably from a mix of year groups.

 All work should be extra curricular, ie lunchtime or before/after school club or meetings

 Practical consideration for the Final at RGU

 The teams will be required to perform a 5 minute presentation to judges, this will be entirely on the project, not on the personnel involved.

 The teams will be expected to have a complete paper/digital documentation trail, and for example this will include meetings where ideas were generated, timelines, user and technical documentation, presentations and advertising or promotional material, with the latter preferably digital (movie or animation). The judges will want to see this record of the project , so it may be an idea to video meetings, prototypes, final product and edit these as required. This part of the project will account for 50% of marks available.

 Presentations

 You will be allocated about 2 hours to set up and perform final checks on your software and hardware and during this time judges will be around and will take an interest in what you are doing and may ask questions.

 The teams will be allocated time to present to the judges , the presentation will include a working demonstration of the project tackled. They will listen to your presentation, and you will all be available to answer any questions.

 The top three entries will be chosen and each team will then present to all of the pupils, primary and secondary, and at the end of the three presentations the pupils will vote for a winner. 

 

Quarter and Semi Finals for GamesCon 2020 (Important Information)

As the final approaches in JUne, there will be some imprtant processes to take place, the process is the same every year and below are the instructions.

NEXT UP….

If you have more than 1 team registered in your school, then you will need to be thinking about and having an in-school competition to choose the best team to go forward to the Semi Finals. If you only have a single team , then the young coders can carry on perfecting their games, presentation pitches, posters, documentation and artefacts, ready for the cluster Semi-Final

This animation explains the next steps and can be shown to your class.

Semi-Finals… 

The semi finals will be judged by industry experts to identify the teams that will progress from each cluster. To achieve this the games must be loaded up into a folder for your Cluster in Glow

Please check here to find the teams you may be competing with in your cluster semi-final. You may find that there is only 1 team registered and therefore, you will automatically advance to the final. (BUT YOU STILL HAVE TO UPLOAD YOUR DOCUMENTS TO THE GLOW SITE )

To give your team the best chance, in addition to the game code  please also include any documentation, posters and if you can a short ( less than 1 minute) video promoting the game.

OR..

Arrange an In-Cluster competition (good practice for the final) and let the pupils and teachers decide on a cluster winner. (then post the winning team only files into the folder in Glow)

This must be completed by (Date to be decided) we will inform schools on  (Date to be decided)  of the winning teams, allowing plenty time for schools to organise transport to RGU.

All of this information is available on the GamesCon blog  but if you need any help or questions answered please contact myself or Susan.

Secondary Schools

Each Secondary School registered can send 1 team to the final. Your final project may be different from the Primary Schools so could you please send to either Susan or myself any equipment you think you may need ( big table, power, etc) ASAP, also please confirm how many teachers and students will be coming to RGU.

 

Date for Final at RGU 2020

The date for the Gamescon 2020 will be Thursday JUNE 11th

This will be an all day event, and leading up to this you will have taken part in school heats ( if more than one team) then winners from the school going to a cluster final, with the cluster winners going to RGU in Aberdeen

We have had a few secondary schools compete over the last 2 years and this year we hope to see teams from as many secondary schools as possible,  and we look forward to seeing their projects in action.

It will be a great day , with presentations from Games Developers, Students , Education Scotland, and a few surprises.

Best of luck to all the teams