Robot mini game

The second semester of the programme in Interactive Media centres around an Introduction to Programming unit. This is definitely the most difficult part of the programme for the students, as it is where the course shifts from a design course to one where students grapple more seriously with the development, systems and coding of online media.

When I started teaching this course, I taught ActionScript. This was easy for students in certain ways, but I never felt it really produced the kind of technical learning that I aimed to facilitate. Apart from the cost of the software, the fact that Flash was a closed proprietary system did not assist the students with learning from other programmers’ code. The visual interface also meant many code-shy students were able to avoid really engaging with scripting, and the distributed code could be extremely confusing. Finally, the programme is built for industry workflows, and thus also assumes that the user is a skilled scripter who is familiar with concepts such as object orientation. Last year, with the assistance of Lyndon Daniels, who put together some open content learning materials I ditched Flash and shifted the curriculum to the Processing language.

Robot game by Paige Aupaias

Robot game by Paige Aupaias

This alien game by Paige Aupiais is an example of the kind of mini game which students are able to develop after four weeks (16 hours) of classes in Processing. While it is not a playable game just yet, it does show how Processing makes it possible to master basic concepts such as variables and operators, functions, controlling program flow with loops and conditional statements, and even objects and classes  (You’ll need to have Java installed on your machine if you want to try out Paige’s game.)

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