Hackasaurus Game Sprint
At the moment I’m in Toronto visiting Mozilla’s new offices and helping with a Hackasaurus sprint. This week we’re concentrating on games as a code learning experience, and had a group of kids aged between around 8 to 11 in to test out what we’d prototyped.
This was quite a challenge since the office is still under construction. We had to compete with power drills, sanders and hammering, and we had a very limited space to work in. We also didn’t have enough computers, and just a smattering of electricity and wifi, so we had to find interesting ways to engage the kids in what was essentially a building site.
After a quick game of Werewolf as an icebreaker, we started playing some board games which we asked the kids to change the rules of. The group I was with changed Monopoly into Hackopoly, and each piece had its own special powers, like the car could go double the number on the dice if the player rolled a double, and the wheelbarrow could move houses from lots with a cheaper rent to ones with a more expensive rent. I chose the boot which could kick players into jail if they landed on the same lot as me. There was some amusing debate over what the thimble was (was it a trash can or a bell?).
We then pitched the idea of an interactive comic using the X-Ray Goggles where you can edit the story and solve puzzles while learning how HTML and CSS work. This idea went down well, and some kids commented that they read comics on their Playstation. There was the request that any game we made would have to have lasers and explosions to be fun, so that should be an interesting challenge.
In the afternoon, some of the kids got into a group to make their own games using Scratch. I was impressed that within an hour and without any assistance, the group had collaborated on building a game that actually worked, and they were able to eloquently explain to us how they’d done it.
I also used the opportunity to test out the Hackbook. I’ve used it in a couple of workshops with 14-15 year olds, but not with younger kids. Surprisingly, this group got to grips with it much quicker than the older group, and were adding video to their pages.