Sally, the BBC Producer for Hackstage pass, stopped by with Craig from CoderDojo Scotland, for a chat with us about the project.
So, firstly can you sum up this project in a sentence?
Sally: Hackstage Pass is a game that lets you take control of the Radio 1 DJs. It’s a platformer with a coding twist…
And what were you trying to achieve?
Sally: We were trying to create an experience that is first-and-foremost fun, a little bit frustrating, but has an underlying purpose…
Craig: …It was important to make sure it does actually teach some basic computer programming skills.
Sally: We’re by no means trying to teach people to become programmers in 20 minutes! It’s about creating a buzz with the DJs and artists, and getting Radio 1’s audience to think a bit more about coding without it feeling like a lesson.
How is this different from other coding experiences?
Craig: The game is a combination of styles, it moves between addictive arcade gameplay and the slower puzzle-solving nature of the “hack mode”. I’ll be interested to see how people approach the game. Whether they just button bash their way to the end of the level, or they methodically code their way to victory.
Sally: From the user testing we’ve done, we hope that Hackstage Pass will make people think but have a laugh at the same time. It’s not easy though, so we do expect make some game rage, but in a good way. What we really want is for people to have a go and if they enjoy it, check out some of the other Make It Digital content.
What got the ball rolling on this project?
Sally: Initially, a team from BBC Scotland and CoderDojo joined up at a Connected Studio and came up with the idea of a coding-based experience using Radio 1 and the Big Weekend to reach a new audience.
We then worked with Playerthree, a games agency, who were integral to developing the core concept and who built the game.
How did you build Hackstage Pass?
Sally: The game is built in HTML5, which is what we use for a lot of CBeebies and CBBC games; that allows us to make the game available across most devices, but it does come with its own unique challenges!
Craig: We knew that our teenage audience would be playing the game on their mobile phone so, working with the developers from Playerthree, we helped design a new user interface that would make it easy to add and edit code on small screens. This was an interesting challenge.
What do you hope to learn from this being on Taster?
Sally: We really want to find out whether people engage with the idea of hacking their moves – thinking a bit creatively to solve a problem.
Craig: We’re trying to hook young people into learning digital skills by engaging them through their existing interests – in this case music. It will be interesting to see if this gets them more interested in digital making in general.
Sally: We’re looking at the possibility of using the concept for other brands and audiences but that’s all TBC.
Craig: Well, my personal mission is to get the highest score!
Sally: Whatever we do, there’s always a legacy of what we learn in terms of how to make games more fun and usable but with a sneaky bit of education thrown in.