At the start of the year a decision was made to enter another game dev competition but this time with a more serious theme behind it. The Serious Games Showcase and Challenge Europe is a competition based around the learning and training through gameplay and so plans were put together to build and submit an entry based around the hobby of amateur radio.

The idea for the game was a simple one, you have to complete the puzzles in order to bring an old radio that you find in an abandoned bunker back online before transmitting your final message. It was hoped that this project could be used as an education tool to give some of First Coding’s pupils an insight into the game development process. It was all built in Scratch as this would allow those pupils who have had little exposure to coding to still be involved. This game really works Scratch hard as I got it to track the ISS and lunar cycles in real time as part of the game.

After months of developing and involving our various classes in the testing and refining process, a prop was also put together to showcase the game as well as a little promotional show reel (above). It made the final!

The final was to take place at a four day event being held in Bristol. I took my son along to help set up and to test that everything was working. He found a bit of a bug in one of the areas of the game that had never appeared before, so there was a bit of frantically patching ahead of the final assessment.

The grand prize was a trip to Orlando to attend the huge Serious Games event that’s being hosted later on in the year. That prize went to a really deserving game that trained dental assistants. I met some lovely people from the dev community as well as the awesome finalists from the UK, US and Germany. What I found most interesting was how people could also see the huge potential this game project could have in promoting creative coding within schools and First Coding is really looking forward to discussing these ideas further to see where they lead.

I had to also give a talk on the value of gamification and creative coding in schools, which allowed me to tell the story of how the game came to be and all the amazing First Coding pupils who were involved along the way. Despite missing out on the big prize, the game did win one category, the Student Choice award, something that I was extremely flattered to be awarded.