Coder Dojo Thurles and the Games Fleadh at LIT Tipperary

The Annual Games Fleadh took place on the Thurles Campus of LIT during the week and what a great couple of days it was for the college.  The place was hoppping for the couple of days with Games studios, college students from 15 different colleges across Ireland and second level and primary students.  The Fleadh kicked off on Wednesday with the competitions for the colleges.  There were 3 competitions – Robocode specifically for 1st year college students and the XNA and Direct X competitions which are open to all.  This year we had 11 colleges for the Robocode competition from the length and breadth of the country.  The competition was won by Dundalk Institute of Technology for the second year running, the only college to have retained their title.  Queens University Belfast won the XNA Challenge and LIT Tipperary won the Direct X Challenge.  You can check the other results here.  Wednesday afternoon saw the Games Pro talks with a full schedule of presenters from studios such as Bioware, Havok, Pop Cap, Open Emotion etc. Wednesday night saw the inaugural Irish Games Awards with Ninjamurai from Open Emotion Studios taking the Best Game Award.  More award winners here.

On Thursday the focus shifted from competition to Expo with second level students coming in to hear career talks from speakers such as James Sadlier, from NeverMind Games, and James Whelton, co-founder of the CoderDojo movement.  They also got a chance to have a look at some of the entries for the XNA and Direct X competitions from the previous day.  I even got a couple of extra students in my Maths class on Thursday when a couple of girls stumbled across my class.  We were working through differentiation of Trigonometric functions and I invited the girls to come and join us.  There then followed a half an hour of talking about sine and cosine waves, amplitude, frequency and how the derivative shows how the functions are changing.

The Games Fleadh was nicely rounded off this year with the launch of the Thurles Coder Dojo.  4 o’clock saw James Whelton welcome the more than 100 teens and pre teens who had come along to learn how to code.  The group was split into those who wanted to learn how to create websites using HTML and those who wanted to learn how to make their own games and animations using Scratch.  It  was great to see so many come along to learn how to create their own content.

This is the 9th year of the Games Fleadh in Thurles and I think it was the best yet.  Over the couple of days it was great to see our students, and those from other colleges, getting an opportunity to talk to the people who work in or have set up their own games studios, to showcase the games that they have worked on and to just generally be a part of such a great event.  It was also heartening to see so many second level students attending the Expo this year, as this will go some way towards helping them to make a more informed choice when it comes to their college course choice for the CAO.  Of course we were also delighted to have so many come along for the first Thurles Coder Dojo.  I’ve heard back from a few people that the kids who came along seem to have enjoyed it, so here’s hoping we’ll have a good crew at the second Dojo this Thursday.  You can book your place here.

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