The first day of The Island: A Primitive Multiplayer Game Processing Workshop, run by Andreas Gysin, got off to a quick start on Monday. After breakfast at the campus cafeteria, we all met in the classroom to get started. We were a small group of less than ten, but international (Argentina, Italy, Korea, Spain, Switzerland and Turkey were represented) and multidisciplinary (between educators, students, a musician, designers, and computer scientists).

Andreas did a great job throughout the week of balancing the teaching across the various levels of knowledge in Processing we all had, a range that went from lower intermediate to advanced. I would place myself in the lower intermediate level at this point, and was glad to have read at least half of Learning Processing by then, because as a complete beginner, the workshop would have  been tough to follow.

The workshop was very hands on, and on the first day we were already programming and designing a game! The first exercise was based on a previous workshop Andreas conducted in the past, and involved designing a simple character for a multiplayer game which could be controlled with just one keystroke. Not a multi-directional joystick or a mouse, just one keystroke.

It was challenging but exciting to try to figure out an innovative approach. I had a hard time and came up with a simple approach, but ultimately it didn’t matter because the computer scientist in the room hacked the game code and won by default… But at least mine looked cool with its geometric flower shape!

Hacking aside, the cool thing was that in just a few hours we were all coding individual code that interacted with larger code and allowed us to play against one another. Serena brought her Arduino skills to the table as well, and instead of using our keyboards we got to play through DIY controllers.

We were left with one task for the next day: to start thinking of what type of game we wanted to build. What would be the rules of the game? How should it look? Who would win and after accomplishing what?