Bristol-2015-PlayWest_2Earlier this month five teams – out of over 30 team applications – were announced as the shortlist of the Bristol 2015 Green Capital Digital Challenge’s 48-hour hackathon.

We caught up with shortlisted team PlayWest (pictured on the right) – the team responsible for Super Trash Heroes, a retro-themed game where the Super Trash Heroes have to tackle food-waste related challenges, to find out more about their thoughts and ideas on the build-up to the final.

Waste really is the bad-guy in this highly imaginative game, especially if it can be re-used or recycled, which can have the player breaking open rubbish bags to collect good food to power their vehicle one minute and over-taking dirty rubbish trucks taking waste to landfill the next!

Check out this retro-themed game’s title page below:

Title screen
 

Keen to know what it was like participating in such an intense and competitive event we asked team member Andy King how the team felt about the day. He told us:

“We genuinely felt both the ‘green’ and the ‘digital’ had joined forces for something special”

“I think the opportunity for tangible relationships with so many amazing creative and technical people was facilitated by the event. We genuinely felt both the ‘green’ and the ‘digital’ had joined forces for something special!”

“Being chosen as a finalist also got us a step closer to the opportunity of a lifetime for the student and graduate members of the team; to take our game to the Youth Summit and to introduce the Super Trash Heroes (and their first credited videogame) to a worldwide audience!”

Gaming for the environment

Nonetheless, it was clear that the creation of a game to raise awareness of the environmental challenges our society faces ran a lot deeper than that. Andy went on to explain:

“Games are powerful and persuasive experiences, especially when shared; yet are so often overlooked or misunderstood.”

“To change our future, we’ve got to reach the next generation”

“We’re creating a videogame to facilitate the removal of the cognitive and behavioural barriers to issues around food waste, because to change our future, we’ve got to reach the next generation.”

See more of what to expect with a sneak preview of Chapter 1 in the game:

Chapter 1

Challenges ahead

Now that PlayWest and the Super Trash Heroes have been announced as a shortlisted team, they have just 2 months to develop their ideas, along with £5000 worth of funding, before the final at the Bristol 2015 International Youth Summit on 20 April 2015.

With aspirations to build a game that could help to “change our future”, Andy shared some of the challenges and pressures the team are expecting to face in the lead-up to the final.

Citing the delicate balance between education and excitement in a game as one of the biggest, he explained: “The real challenge will lie in maintaining a tonal balance between real-world issues, the sense of player agency in the game and in the world around them, without dropping the ball in terms of an addictive, exciting global adventure, all powered by food waste!”

“We believe we can raise the level of practical awareness by busting myths around food waste and empowering people who might otherwise have ignored the issue to act”

 

And the team is clearly undeterred by the challenge, appearing confident about the impact the Super Trash Heroes could have on game players’ engagement with environmental issues:

“We truly believe we can raise the level of practical awareness by busting myths around food waste and empowering people who might otherwise have ignored the issue to act. On top of that we want to give them an amazing, memorable retro gaming experience.”

super-trash-heroes

Pixel power: some of the pixel heroes being developed for the game

The PlayWest/ Super Trash Heroes team consists of:

  • Alistair Callum – the founder and creative director at PlayWest & Cluster Leader for Creative Technology at the University of the West of England.
  • Andy King – the lead developer & technical direction for PlayWest
  • Tom Waterhouse – freelance graphic designer and PlayWest contributor
  • Jake Thorne  & Jake Baugh – 3rd Year Games Technology students

Thanks to Andy and the team for answering our questions. You can follow PlayWest and the Super Trash Heroes by following them on Twitter: @PlayWestHQ and #SuperTrashHeroes. Keep an eye out for upcoming profiles on the other shortlisted teams in the coming weeks as well as more information about the final at the Bristol 2015 International Youth Summit.