Game Mod was a workshop by Steph Thirion in Barcelona last month. The idea: take code for a simple game of Breakout, rendered in Processing, and mess it up so it looks like art. The surprise: participants weren’t programmers, and they got results in minutes rather than long hours.

Game Mod [Project page, descriptions, code, video]

The task of each participant was to create a mod of the game: dig into the code, change its looks and behaviours, search for unexpected results.

Graphic design students, with almost no previous experience in coding, were pushed head first into object oriented programming. They discovered that in the complex system of a game program, change can lead to unexpected and beautiful results, and their lack of knowledge of the tool was more a creativity boost than it was a limitation.

Of course, the advantage here: there was source code to start with. And as I have to keep telling my students, starting with code examples is a good idea. (That’s why experienced coders do it.) This Breakout is a little different, in that balls bounce off all the walls in sort of an “everybody wins” version of the game — perfect for visualists.

Okay, non-coders — and coders — are you up to the challenge? You can download the code from the project page above and try it yourself. I like the idea of giving a time limit and not thinking about it too much. Maybe some instant sketching in Processing every day isn’t a bad idea.