Coders create own games

Ashburton's children's librarian Jonathan Nixon, back left and Microbyte coder Hunter Barnes, 9, and, front, Ashburton Museum archivist Connor Lysaght, Tessa Jones, 11, and Luke Watson, 12 checking out games loaded onto Kitronic arcade systems. Photo Toni Williams

Microbyte coders from Ashburton Public Library finished their club year with a visit to Ashburton Museum to talk about practical applications for their coding skills.

They, along with children’s librarian Jonathan Nixon who runs the afterschool sessions, met museum archives officer Connor Lysaght who has made 2D and 3D games using the similar drag and drop code being explored by club members.

The children also showed him some of their own completed games created with online programme Microsoft Makecode Arcade and put on to library-owned mobile kitronic arcade systems.

The hand held units are shared with visiting class groups to get children interested in coding.


Connor started using Game Maker 7 when he was a similar age as club members; he is 22 now but still remembers the demon blobs and blue jewel collectors he created in one of his first games.

Connor has used Blender game software and Unity game engine to develop 2D and 3D games.

His skills have progressed and he made his Hakatere Hack game using Unity for an Ashburton Museum exhibition two years ago. It uses gaming graphics mixed with real historical photographs taking a multi-choice question and answer tour around Mid Canterbury district. It can still be found on Google Play.

He said working in Unity looked complicated at first but on close inspection it was simple to use with drag and drop sound and visuals.

involved but for the most part there is drag and drop involved.

Connor has also created 3D games with sci-fi street scenes which have been for personal use.

He said with all the games, 2D then 3D in later life, it was important to have fun

“It’s just a hobby for me, I work in archives in the museum.were animation and game design opportunities with university and polytech courses offered. It could also branch into many fields.

Up to 15 coders, aged 10 to 14, have been part of a one-hour-a-week coding club set up by Mr Nixon.

There are Monday and Tuesday sessions benefiting 30 children.

They used Makecode Arcade which gave more options and worked better with the computer hardware at the library, Mr Nixon said.

At the beginning of the club, many were familiar with block-based visual programming language and website Scratch, although some were new to coding.

Mr Nixon liked that children had taken their learnings home to friends at school and then integrated those learnings into their work. “To me that was an absolute highlight, it’s cool, really cool.”

The club started during term four and Mr Nixon is now planning for next year.

The library has 15 chrome books for children to use during sessions which allowed them to each work on their own programming. They were learning sprite animation and working on game development.

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