Professor Simon Colton shares his experience of speaking at the NACE National Conference 2017, and invites NACE members to help develop his new app for schools.
 
Yesterday, I was very fortunate to attend the NACE National Conference in London and delighted to give the closing keynote address. In my talk, I introduced a few topics and projects from my research in computational creativity, where we study how to share creative responsibilities with software. I presented a few slides and videos about The Painting Fool, The What-If Machine and my latest project, Wevva.
 
Wevva is a "casual creator" for games, allowing anyone to make simple games in minutes rather than days, weeks or months (which is usual in game design). Wevva has taken many (difficult) months of development. But along the way, we’ve had a lot of encouragement and positive feedback from running game jams – events where people get together and make games – with students and staff at Falmouth University (where I work) and local girl guides.
 
We’ve also helped with an after-school club for children from the Nexus specialist STEM centre in Camborne, which was a big success. In particular, using earlier prototypes of Wevva, we enabled children to make interesting and engaging games, learning so many things about design, user interaction, art theory and physics along the way. Working with Nexus has been the one of the coolest projects I've done so far, and was a real inspiration for the next stage of the app’s development.
 
So, as part of my talk at the conference, I was delighted to announce the launch of Wevva for Schools, and grateful to NACE for giving me the platform to do this. Wevva for Schools is a new educational pack, an out-of-the-box game design classroom, enabling students to make videogames easily and straight away, giving them space to learn all about game design and other topics like simulated physics, colour theory and programming, and to experience what working in the creative industries is like.
 
We received such enthusiastic feedback from teachers at the NACE National Conference yesterday. It was great that many teachers expressed a keen interest in Wevva for Schools, and we can't wait to see Wevva for Schools being used in primary and secondary schools, to empower students to explore the joys of videogame design.
 
Wevva for Schools will be available for September and we are asking NACE members to help shape this educational offering. I was delighted by the positive response to this request, and around 20 people have already signed up. If you would like to help with the final development of Wevva for Schools, then please see the web pages at www.wevvagame.com or contact us at wevvaforschools@metamakersinstitute.com
 
The opening keynote from Lord Robert Winston was really inspiring and reminded me of my time at Imperial College. I also got to sit in on the workshop run by Jo Foster, the director of Nexus, and heard the inside track on how Nexus has been made so successful, which I’ve been able to see first-hand this year. So, all in all, it was a wonderful day at the NACE National Conference. I’d like to thank the NACE team for the invitation to talk, all the people at the conference who gave us great feedback, and the staff at etc.venues for such a great day!

Professor Simon Colton
A leading artificial intelligence researcher, Professor Simon Colton specialises in the field of computational creativity. He leads the Computational Creativity Group at Goldsmiths College, University of London, and holds an EC-funded ERA chair at Falmouth University, as well as an EPSRC Leadership Fellowship. He has published around 200 papers, won national and international prizes for his research, and helped create software that can make mathematical discoveries, create art, generate games and produce fictional ideas. One of his best-known projects is The Painting Fool, a computer programme designed to one day be taken seriously as a creative artist in its own right.


 
Date: 
Thursday, June 22, 2017