Thursday September 28, 2017
Future game developers crack the art of code By Jamie Adams
To any layperson computer code would seem like gibberish, but young students interested in information technology can’t get enough of it, if a Scots College extra-curricular course is anything to go by. Rata Studios, a performing arts faculty based at the school, runs a range of creative courses taught by industry professionals that are available to students from the wider Wellington area. One course in particular has its students hooked on video games. But they’re not playing them after school – instead they’re actually creating them. Creative technology tutor Jess Weichler said 11 participants aged from 10 to 13 have been making video games throughout the term using a
text-based coding programme called Python. “This is what they use at Weta Digital. All the kids are creating games that use this platform and they thought it was cool it was used in the industry,” Jess said. “This is the most intense thing we have done in Rata Studios.” Most of the students had been involved in creative technology since Term 1 when they were first tutored on the principles of coding before applying the practice through a relatively easy programme called Scratch. While the moveable video-game graphics or “blocks” formulated in Scratch could be dragged around by a novice, it was a different story with Python. “With Scratch you can just move the
Paul’s bursaries too FAB to ignore A retired benefactor is appealing for more interest in a scholarship programme targeting talented young artists. Originally known as FFFF Trust, the FAB Trust was founded by Strathmore Park man Paul Franken to provide up to $7000 worth of bursaries annually to worthy Year 7-11 students who live in the Wellington City eastern ward. Paul is appealing for more interest in his scheme after only one person applied in 2017 following seven years of healthy competition. While the top prize of $3000 was handed over, it meant the $2000 and $1000 bursaries went “to waste” as there were no more applicants. Paul founded the trust after discussing with his children what to do with a significant nest-egg he had saved upon retirement. With interest accruing on his six-figure bank balance, Paul had the idea of using the income to create scholarships for youth artists, the amount of which would be determined by trustees. Paul said he was inspired after realising their financial burdens after a conversation with a “masterful” young busker in Cuba Street.
blocks whereas with Python you have to tell the computer to move stuff by writing the code,” Finn Studd, a Scots College Year 8 student, explained. Each student had their own ideas for games such as pig that has to collect coins by jumping over ledges, or a futuristic warrior who has to negotiate obstacles to receive rewards. While classes run from 3.50-5.30pm every Wednesday, students are able to continue working on their video games at home and are able to get support online through a platform called Github. Although the Term 3 class the Cook Strait News visited had only boys enrolled in it, girls have been enrolled in other Rata Studios creative technology courses such as animation, Scratch coding, and recycled robotics.
Hataitai School Year 8 student Zach Bragg works on his video game creation in the Rata Studios creative technology programme at Scots College. PHOTO: Jamie Adams
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Paul Franken. PHOTO: Jamie Adams
“When I asked him which school he was raising money for he responded that it was for his own violin tuition; his teacher having told him him he was due for a larger violin. This would cost around $14,000-$16,000.” FAB stands for “Franken Art Bursaries”, chosen after the acronyms for “Franken Art Trust” and “Franken Art Grants” were deemed inappropriate. The trust is associated with Evans Bay Intermediate School, which Paul’s children went to. Its website hosts information about the trust and the principal is a trustee. While applications are closed until March next year, those wanting to find out more can visit www.ebis.school.nz/ ffff-scholarship.
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Cook Strait News 28-09-17