Hack Club’s Sprig is a Raspberry Pi Pico powered JavaScript game console – free for teenage coders

Hack Club’s Sprig is a Raspberry Pi Pico powered JavaScript game console – free for teenage coders

Hoping to get people developing their own games in JavaScript, educational coding network non-profit Hack Club is offering a free Raspberry Pi Pico-powered handheld console to run to any interested “teenage hacker” who can write a game for it: the twig .

“You should be able to get started in Sprig with very little programming experience,” Hack Club organizers explain about the gadget. “Even if you’re an expert, you should still be able to have fun. Sprig games are designed to be shared and hacked with friends. Every game submitted is easy to view and edit in our gallery, so people can learn from and build on each other.”

Sprig games are written in JavaScript using a web-based editor, complete with simulator. This is the central pillar of Hack Club’s promise to deliver a free console to interested teenagers: all they have to do is write a game in the editor and add it to the community gallery, and they’ll be eligible for the giveaway. “Only teenagers and younger can receive twigs,” Hack Club organizers warn. “Anyone is welcome to submit to the gallery.”

The Sprig itself is based on a Raspberry Pi Pico, which runs the JavaScript games on the board’s RP2040 microcontroller – which, according to the device’s designers, “involved custom JS execution with optimizations in C and even PIO [Programmable Input/Output] assembly.” The board has two clusters of four tactile switches, such as direction and fire buttons, with a compact TFT7735 color display in the middle and an amplifier driving a speaker. Laser-cut wood is used to provide a better grip than a bare PCB alone.

“People learn best when they make things they care about,” Hack Club claims, “which they can then share with others. This kind of learning philosophy is called constructivism, and Sprig is a type of microworld. A microworld is an environment where you can discover programming by using it to express yourself.”

Those interested in trying Sprig out, either to receive a free console or just to experiment with its capabilities, can do so on the Hack Club website; if you prefer to roll your own, hardware and software sources are available on GitHub under the Permissive MIT License.

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