Just Association - Creative, Collaborative Interfaces.

'War is Not a Game', with Haydock High School & Fact

'War is Not a Game' was a collaboration between Just Associations' Neil Winterburn, and Teacher/Creative Antony Bennett ,working with the pupils of year nine from Haydock Sports College.. This was enabled as part of a wider collaboration, the Enquire 3 program, between L.J.M.U. Teacher Training and Fact.

Educational Context

This project was to deliver the pupils Art lesson for a period of six weeks. We were given Six, fifty minute lessons to work with the young people, five of which we based in the Mac Suite in the adjoining C.L.C. and one in the School Art Room.
We were keen for the project push the young people to transfer the skills that they had developed in their Art Lessons into a Digital Media context. It was also important that we used the project to link in with the current curriculum theme of 'War'. Exploring the media of Computer Games, often accused of glorifying and war and violence, as a space to explore more complex emotional responses to War seemed a great way to achieve this.

The Young People

The class were an enthusiastic middle set group of very mixed ability. Most of the young people stated that they didn't feel very confident with I.T., and hadn't used I.T. in Art lessons before.

Project Aims

As we co-planned the project we set ourselves the following aims.

To enable the young people to...
- Understand and write computer code.
- 'Get under the bonnet' of computer games, and develop an understanding of how they are made.
- Construct computer game environments as expressive information spaces.

The Planning Process

Starlogo TNG
We decided that the best software to give the young people the opportunity to explore the creative potential of coding and creating their own 3d models would be Starlogo TNG. This incredible piece of educational software, is the next generation of Logo computing from M.I.T. which has evolved from a tool with which young people program the movement of small motorized robots, to graphical objects onscreen, to complex 3d games and simulations with potentially 1000's of agents.
Starlogo TNG was designed initially to be used to model complex dynamic systems in a scientific context, e.g. the movement of flocks of birds, or the spread of infections. We decided that its ingenious drag and drop visual programming language would be ideal to introduce the young people to the power of coding their own game environments. Starlogo TNG is free to download, with some fantastic tutorials and introductions, click the image below to go to the homepage.

Starlogo TNG

Project Background & Context

'War is Not a Game' was part of the Fact Enquire Three program which aimed to
Showcase the collaborations between FACT and LJMU. This project forged partnerships between St Julies Catholic High School, Ormskirk School, Haydock Sports College and New Media Artists Jackie Passmore, Steve Symons and Neil Winterburn.

The project placed trainee teachers, artists and young people at the core of a project. The focus was to encourage and develop new media opportunities for young people in schools and to support teachers of art in developing the curriculum in this area. The project was funded by Enquire.