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Supported by Raspberry Pi

Graphics for games

Choose a theme, then design the sprites and background for a computer game.
Plan a session with this activity

You will need

  • Access to a computer
Notes and handout (Graphics for games)
PDF – 1.9MB
A phone is balanced against a laptop, both have purple maps decorated with spaceships, planets and stars on their screens.

Before you begin

  • Don’t panic if you’ve never used (or have never even heard of) Scratch before. There’s plenty of info below, and this activity’s a great way for everyone to learn. It’s a good idea to spend some time reading the information and practising before you lead the activity, though.
  • If you don’t have enough computers for one between two, you could run this activity as one base, so groups visit one at a time. You could also look in to visiting a local library or school to use their computers.
  • If your meeting place has internet access, you can run Scratch in a web browser. Just follow this link.
  • If your meeting place doesn’t have internet access, don’t worry. You can download the Scratch desktop application (and Scratch guide) here. Download the Scouts Game Design starter project shape-shooter.sb3 from here.

Get your head in the game

  1. Everyone should think of the different things that make a computer game. What different things are designed for each game?
  2. Everyone should share their ideas. Some people might think about physical things like controllers or screens, others might think about the code that’s used to program the movements in the game. Did anyone think about the images, like the characters or the backgrounds? What about the story?
  3. The person leading the activity should explain that images in a computer game are often called ‘sprites’. Sprites are visible objects that interact with each other in the coding environment.
  4. The person leading the activity should introduce everyone to (or remind them about) Scratch. They should make sure that everyone understands that Scratch is a programming language for creating games, stories, and animations.
  5. The person leading the activity should show everyone the ‘Shape shooter’ game. They should explain that people can change the sprites to match any theme they like.

Get coding

  1. Everyone should split into pairs.
  2. Each pair should choose a theme for their game.
  1. Everyone should follow the instructions in the ‘Notes and handout’ to create their game.
  2. Once their games are finished, everyone should take it in turns to showcase their new games and graphics.

Reflection

This activity was all about developing skills. Was anyone surprised to find out that creating a computer game is as much about art as it is about programming? The theme of a game comes from what it looks and sounds like, not just what it does.

Projects like this need lots of different skills, and it’s rare for one person to be great at all of them! Did people play different roles in their pairs or small groups? Where else might people use their skills? Does anyone have any ideas about how they could build on the skills they found trickier? Why is it useful to be able to recognise your strengths and the things you’d like to work on?

If there’s time, people could note down a skill they’re proud of and one they’d like to build on. Can anyone make a pair where someone’s proud of the skill someone else would like to learn? How could people support each other to develop skills?

Safety

Online safety

Supervise young people when they’re online and give them advice about staying safe.

For more support around online safety or bullying, check out the NSPCC website. If you want to know more about specific social networks and games, Childnet has information and safety tips for apps. You can also report anything that’s worried you online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command.

As always, if you’ve got concerns about a young person’s welfare (including their online experiences), follow the Yellow Card reporting processes.

All activities must be safely managed. Do a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.