GamesCon 2020 and IGBE

Improving Gender Balance and Equalities

Research suggests that there can be benefits to playing video games in terms of developing problem-solving, cognitive function and special awareness skills (Gee, 2005; Adachi and Willoughby, 2013; Green and Bavelier, 2006; Przybylski, 2014; Subrahmanyam and Greenfield, 1994; Spence and Feng, 2010; Connolly et al., 2012). Research by OECD (2015) shows that pupils who play video games have higher success when sitting computer-based tests, specifically in problem-solving and mathematics. The OECD also suggests that pupils who interact with computer software are more confident when faced with the prospect of a computer-based test.

It is widely known that more boys interact on a regular basis with video-gaming software than girls. It is vital that we encourage all pupils to interact positively with computer software so that all pupils can benefit from the skill development and confidence working with technology can bring. By encouraging and empowering boys and girls to engage with technology in a positive way, we move closer to closing the gender-based gap within the STEM subjects and inspire more pupils to consider a diverse range of curricular areas and learner pathways.

As part of CfE’s Health and Well-being Experience’s and Outcomes under ‘Planning for choices and change’, we ask that learners “experience activities which enable them to develop the skills and attributes they will need if they are to achieve and sustain positive destinations beyond school”. In a world where technology is ever present in the work place, it is important that all young people are provided opportunities to engage in exciting learning opportunities, such as GamesCon 2020.

GamesCon 2020 and Expressive arts

Expressive Arts

During the event students could be,

  • creating characters and graphics for their game
  • creating presentations and videos as part of their research
  • creating music and sound effects to use in their game

Expressive Arts Experiences and Outcomes

Experiences in the expressive arts involve creating and presenting and are practical and experiential.

I have experienced the energy and excitement of presenting/performing for audiences and being part of an audience for other people’s presentations/performances. EXA 0-01a / EXA 1-01a / EXA 2-01a 

I have the opportunity to choose and explore an extended range of media and technologies to create images and objects, comparing and combining them for specific tasks. EXA 2-02a

I can create and present work that shows developing skill in using the visual elements and concepts. EXA 2-03a

I can develop and communicate my ideas, demonstrating imagination and presenting at least one possible solution to a design problem. EXA 2-06a

I can use my voice, musical instruments and music technology to experiment with sounds, pitch, melody, rhythm, timbre and dynamics.  EXA 2-17a

Inspired by a range of stimuli, and working on my own and/or with others, I can express and communicate my ideas, thoughts and feelings through musical activities. EXA 1-18 / EXA 2-18a

Click the above graphic to access the document

GamesCon and LIteracy and English links to CfE

GamesCon and Literacy and English

During the event the students would most likely be engaged or participating in activities in Literacy and English:


  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Listening and Talking


Working in the GamesCon 2020 competition will allow, at various levels the development of literacy skills.


I develop and extend my literacy skills when I have opportunities to:

  • communicate, collaborate and build relationships
  • reflect on and explain my literacy and thinking skills, using feedback to help me improve and sensitively provide useful feedback for others
  • engage with and create a wide range of texts
  • develop my understanding of what is special, vibrant and valuable about my own and other cultures and their languages in different media, taking advantage of the opportunities offered by ICT
  • extend and enrich my vocabulary through listening, talking, watching and reading.

Examples of some relevant Literacy and English experiences and outcomes from the latest CfE publication


Tools for reading – to help me use texts with increasingly complex or unfamiliar ideas, structures and vocabulary within and beyond my place of learning

  • Through developing my knowledge of context clues, punctuation, grammar and layout, I can read unfamiliar texts with increasing fluency, understanding and expression. ENG 2-12a / ENG 3-12a
  • I can select and use a range of strategies and resources before I read, and as I read, to make meaning clear and give reasons for my selection. LIT 2-13a

Finding and using information – when reading and using fiction and nonfiction texts with increasingly complex ideas, structures and specialist vocabulary

  • Using what I know about the features of different types of texts, I can find, select and sort information from a variety of sources and use this for different purposes. LIT 2-14a
  • I can make notes, organise them under suitable headings and use them to understand information, develop my thinking, explore problems and create new texts, using my own words as appropriate. LIT 2-15a


Tools for writing – using knowledge of technical aspects to help my writing communicate effectively within and beyond my place of learning

  • Throughout the writing process, I can check that my writing makes sense and meets its purpose. LIT 2-23a
  • I consider the impact that layout and presentation will have and can combine lettering, graphics and other features to engage my reader. LIT 2-24a

Listening and Talking

Tools for listening and talking – to help me when interacting or presenting within and beyond my place of learning

  • When I engage with others, I can respond in ways appropriate to my role, show that I value others’ contributions and use these to build on thinking. LIT 2-02a

Finding and using information – when listening to, watching and talking about texts with increasingly complex ideas, structures and specialist vocabulary

  • As I listen or watch, I can identify and discuss the purpose, main ideas and supporting detail contained within the text, and use this information for different purposes. LIT 2-04a
  • I can select ideas and relevant information, organise these in an appropriate way for my purpose and use suitable vocabulary for my audience. LIT 2-06a
Curriculum for Excellence, LIteracy and English Documentation
CfE Literacy and English


You will be able to better choose the most appropriate E’s and O’s for the young people engaging in the competition.

The process of working through the competition brief is a very good opportunity for holistic assessment based around the clusters of Es and Os highlighted above

For further information on the Expectations and Outcomes document please click on the image above

Computational Thinking

 What is computational thinking?

Computers can be used to help us solve problems. However, before a problem can be tackled, the problem itself and the ways in which it could be solved need to be understood.

Computational thinking allows us to do this.

Computational thinking allows us to take a complex problem, understand what the problem is and develop possible solutions. We can then present these solutions in a way that a computer, a human, or both, can understand.

The four cornerstones of computational thinking

There are four key techniques (cornerstones) to computational thinking:

  • decomposition – breaking down a complex problem or system into smaller, more manageable parts
  • pattern recognition – looking for similarities among and within problems
  • abstraction – focusing on the important information only, ignoring irrelevant detail
  • algorithms – developing a step-by-step solution to the problem, or the rules to follow to solve the problem

Each cornerstone is as important as the others. They are like legs on a table – if one leg is missing, the table will probably collapse. Correctly applying all four techniques will help when programming a computer.  (More information HERE  )

Barefoot Computing is a great FREE resource , and the resources are mapped to Curriculum for Excellence and the current Experience and Outcomes. The materials provide learning opportunities to support aspects of the broad general education Computing Science curriculum within the Technologies whilst also providing interdisciplinary experiences across the curriculum.

Barefoot add Logic and Evaluation as key concepts, but you will see the Computational Thinking concepts and approaches could be used anywhere in the curriculum.


Barefoot Computing

Registration for Barefoot resources is FREE and you can even book a free CLPL twilight at your school for all the teachers.

Full information is on the site, and I would encourage you to explore and make use of the many ready to use in CfE lesson plans.

GamesCon 2020 and links to Science in CfE

Science and Technology

Sciences E&Os there is potential to link this to topical science:

SCN: 2 – 20a and b: (Summary) Topical Science at Second Level allows pupils to demonstrate their understanding of the impact of scientific discovery and invention has on their lives and society and to share opinions about topical scientific issues.

The invention of the internet and then social media has had an inconceivable impact on our society  – we live our lives online and our data has now become an increasingly valuable commodity. Discussing this and developing an understanding of how to stay safe online and to share only what you want to share links very well with these E&O’s.

In addition at each level there are a number of Scientific Skills:

Scientific analytical thinking skills

– Applies scientific analytical thinking skills, with assistance, working with less familiar (or familiar but more complex) contexts.  .

– Demonstrates further development of creative thinking including through the engineering processes of design, construction, testing and modification.

Skills and attributes of scientifically literate citizens

At Second Level, it is anticipated that learners will be able to demonstrate the skills below with assistance.

– Presents a reasoned argument based on evidence, demonstrating understanding of underlying scientific concepts, and engages with the views of others.

– Demonstrates understanding of the relevance of science to their future lives and the role of science  in an increasing range of careers and occupations.

– Demonstrates increased awareness of creativity and inventiveness in science, the use of technologies  in the development of sciences and the impact of science on society.

– Expresses informed views about scientific and environmental issues based on evidence.

Gamescon Online CLPL sessions from West College Paisley

Dr Amanda Ford has launched , with the help of STEM funding a fantastic set of online CLPL sessions to support her GamesJam.

West Paisley College are offering these free CLPL support sessions for educators that will focus on using Scratch to create your own games. They will run online through Teams in Glow on the following dates:  

  • 13 November 7-8pm – Introduction to Games with Scratch & the Game Jam EventThis session will discuss getting your own game jam event set up and then take you through creating a maze game in Scratch. 
  • 27 November 7-8pm – Levelling up -Extending the Maze Game. This session will build on the maze game that was created in the previous session and add new features to enhance your game such as extra levels and start/end screens. 
  • 15 January 7-8pm – Collecting Game. This session will introduce new game mechanics by creating your own sweet collecting game and add scoring features. 
  • 29 January 7-8pm – Bat and Ball Game. This session will cover movement of sprites, creating 2 player games and scoring. 
  • 26 February  7-8pm – Creating a Quiz. This session will look at how to create your own quizzes in Scratch.
  • 11 March  7-8pm -Putting it all together and preparing for the Game Jam.This session is to help educators with any queries they may have on getting set up for an event or Scratch issues. 

These sessions will be a great help to teachers supporting young people in the Aberdeenshire Gamescon 2020 event

If you wish to be added to the team, take part in the sessions or want more information please contact Amanda Ford  -  

 This programme is being supported by Education Scotland’s Enhancing Professional Learning in STEM Grants Programme through the Scottish Government STEM Education and Training Strategy. 


GamesCon and Maths and Numeracy

During the event the students would most likely be exploring :

  • 2D and 3D models 
  • Co-ordinates , precise positioning of a sprite on a computer display 
  • Chance and Uncertainty (randomisation)
  • Time: recording and displaying, duration of time (showing how long a player has taken to complete a level for example)
  • Measurement , creating graphics to fill specific spaces calculated in pixels, understanding  and demonstrating knowledge of different measurement units
  • Angles and Symmetry: On screen sprites may be required to turn specific angles, or grow or shrink, or sprites may be mirrored , horizontally, inclined or vertically.
  • Patterns : pattern recognition is a key computational thinking skill to efficiently develop algorithms
  • Boolean algebra truth values and its basic operations of  : AND, OR, NOT, and IF statements to control which bits of code to run eg:
    if (temperature is greater than 50 degrees)
         display ( Phew it is really hot today)


Examples of some relevant numeracy and mathematics from the CfE experiences and outcomes

Having determined which calculations are needed, I can solve problems involving whole numbers using a range of methods, sharing my approaches and solutions with others. MNU 2-03a

Having explored the need for rules for the order of operations in number calculations, I can apply them correctly when solving simple problems. MTH 2-03c

I can use and interpret electronic and paper-based timetables and schedules to plan events and activities, and make time calculations as part of my planning.  MNU 2-10a

I can carry out practical tasks and investigations involving timed events and can explain which unit of time would be most appropriate to use MNU 2-10b

Having explored a range of 3D objects and 2D shapes, I can use mathematical language to describe their properties, and through investigation can discuss where and why particular shapes are used in the environment. MTH 2-16a

Through practical activities, I can show my understanding of the relationship between 3D objects and their nets.  MTH 2-16b

I can draw 2D shapes and make representations of 3D objects using an appropriate range of methods and efficient use of resources.  MTH 2-16c

Click the above graphic to access the document

Getting started on your GamesCon journey

Elsewhere in this blog you will find links to great online resources such as CodeClub ( ) Hour of Code ( 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 ( )

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!

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