National competition launched by Aardman Animations and Nominet Trust will teach digital skills to a new generation of budding game designers.
The UK’s Aardman Animations, the creator of Shaun the Sheep, has teamed up with social tech funder Nominet Trust to launch Shaun’s Game Academy, a national competition for young people to build online games based on the adventures of the popular TV character.
The winning ‘kiddy-coder‘ will be invited to spend the day at Aardman Animations, also famous for family favourites, Wallace & Gromit, to have their creation developed further by the studio’s award winning games team.
Shaun’s Game Academy is aiming to encourage and capture the creativity and skills of young people -- reaching computer games lovers as well as those who may not have had any experience of coding before.
Nominet Trust, the UK’s only dedicated tech for good funder, has collaborated with Aardman to give children the opportunity to develop critical skills by appealing to their interests in gaming, animation and popular culture. The competition will give young users a suite of characters, backgrounds and effects from the stop-motion animation series to create simple, fun and exciting games using the Scratch coding platform.
The competition, which runs until September 2014, will allow kids, school teachers and families to get involved. Teachers will have access to resources they can use in class to engage young people ahead of September’s ICT curriculum change, which will require them to teach basic coding.
Annika Small, CEO of Nominet Trust, said: “Children are eager to make their own projects online, but many don’t have the opportunity to do so. Combining digital making with young people’s everyday interests is a great way to create digital activities that are relevant and fun. This is why we are really excited by this partnership with Aardman Animations and the launch of Shaun’s Games Academy.”
The project’s Creative Director Ricky Martin said: “Here at Aardman we all have a huge passion for games and spend the majority of our time producing them for children. Watching children play our games and hearing their ideas to improve our projects with amazing and often completely crazy suggestions is always enlightening. The idea of empowering children with the inspiration, tools and resources to make their own games and allowing them to bring these ideas to life is really exciting for us.
“Working with Nominet Trust has given us the means to impart some of our game building know-how and passion on to a fresh new generation. Shaun the Sheep has a huge fan base and we hope that making Shaun assets available on Scratch will attract children who had never even thought they could make their own games. We can’t wait to see what amazing ideas the children come up with!”
Nominet Trust has been actively supporting young people of all ages to become digital makers for the past two years. Shaun’s Games Academy is the latest national initiative the not-for-profit organisation has devised and invested in, with other programmes including Make Things Do Stuff in partnership with Mozilla and Nesta; and the recently-launched iDEA programme with HRH The Duke of York.
Nominet Trust has also invested in the early-stage development and growth of Apps for Good, Code Club, Young Rewired State, Coderdojo, Digital Me, and Tech will Save Us, amongst others.
Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.