DIY Gamer Kit workshops @ Rewired State

Tuesday 18th August

Every August Young Rewired State runs the largest annual hack event in the world! The ‘Festival of Code’ is a week during the summer holidays which sees over 1200 young people gather all across the UK to prototype ideas and culminates in a single Festival weekend.

From Monday to Friday the young coders attend a local centre run by industry volunteers to team up and build prototypes that bring their ideas to life in answer to real-world problems – this year using the theme of open data.
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All Festival participants then travel to the finale Festival weekend to present their projects to parents, mentors, press, industry and expert judges and compete to be crowned winners of one or all of the five categories.

This year was Tech Will Save Us’s first trip to the finals. We were invited to host workshops on the Saturday afternoon for those unlucky few that didn’t make it into the semi finals and what a great bunch they were. At Tech Will Save Us we are often focussed on inspiring those to take that first step into digital making, acting as a gateway into the world of hands on tech and code, so we were very excited to see what a group of already enthusiastic digital makers would come up with.

We had two workshops running in parallel. The first was our DIY Synth workshop run by our resident sound expert and Lead engineer Andy, but with an added twist. Back in the studio Andy and some of the team have been working hard over the last couple of months to create a web app that allows you to record the sounds you make and start to layer them into tracks, and this was its first test. So once the young people (and some parents) finished making their synth they then worked in teams to make some very eclectic and interesting tunes. It has passed with flying colours so watch this space for its release to the wider world, we have to say it’s pretty awesome.

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In the other room we had our DIY Gamer workshop running. Normally within a Gamer workshop we use the Gamer as an introduction to programming and physical gadgets for those who have no experience. Although all of the young people taking part didn’t necessarily have Arduino experience, they had all at some point taken part in some kind of programming whether that be Scratch, Python, HTML or C++. We did a quick introduction into the Gamer and its capabilities and then introduced the young people to the Gamer’s library and some initial functions such as using the buttons to move a dot around the screen and then the rest was up to their imagination and capabilities. We had everything from a Darude Sandstorm inspired animation to multi Gamer Flappy Bird being played across the room – it was a hive of excitement, talent and output.

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It was so lovely to see the Gamer in a new context and seeing those with existing programming capability take what they normally do on a screen or the web and translate those skills into a new environment with a physical output and achieve awesome results and really push the Gamer and its capabilities. It has certainly inspired us to do more in this space and we will be updating out GitHub to include some of the great outputs from the day.

Thank you for having us YRS it was a pleasure!

P.S. Keep an eye out for exciting new gamer stuff! Coming soon!