by Derek Chan
It's Week 2 of Build Season where teams are rushing to build a robot to play Recycle Rush, a game where alliances stack boxes and containers in order to gain points. However, the game has not been warmly received by many in the FRC community, with some claiming that the game is literally "garbage." For instance, on the Recycle Rush Game Animation on Youtube, there is a notable amount of dislikes on the video with many top comments complaining about the game.
Common complaints on FRC forums include: not very exciting, lack of competition, and lack of opponent interaction. The whole "garbage compactor" theme of Recycle Rush doesn't help the game's image either, with many jokes made about the game.
Let's take a look at some of our own Team 4159's comments on the game.
Dylan: “I wanted to hit robots.”
Antonio: “I can’t describe how disappointed I am.”
William: “This year’s game was not something that I expected. Although this year’s game won’t be as action-packed as previous years’, I am happy that Recycle Rush will still provide a fun and unique engineering challenge to our team.”
Some members are disappointed with this game as they, like many, were expecting a water game, which is commonly rumored and hyped about in the FRC community, or at least a more interesting game. Compared to the previous three games Team 4159 has competed in, which have been sports-like competitions, this game takes an surprising twist, favoring applications in real world situations over excitement as a spectator sport. The rules also underwent a radical change in rules from recent games, such as no longer requiring bumpers, different robot limits, and lack of a winner during qualifying games, which eliminates our experience as a veteran team and the planning our team has made. However, several of our members note the positives of this game.
Mr. Cooley (Our team mentor): “It’s very different from other games that we’ve played in. A lot of experience that we’ve had in prior games doesn’t apply. There’s more room for creativity because there’s no defense to worry about so you can be more bold with your designs. However, I think the matches are not going to be as exciting to watch.”
Raymond: “This year’s game feels more geared towards relating our work to real-world problems that need to be solved. It makes me think of forklifts moving boxes around in a warehouse.”
Mabel and Annie: ”We like how they are trying to address real-life problems into robotics and trying to make us more concerned about the environment. There are many real-life applications in this year's game. Bringing environmental concerns into robotics allows us to think outside of engineering. ”
The game seems to be trying to teach people the practical uses of robotics, such as a planet rover or trash collector, while also sneaking environmental lessons on recycling (even if the game promotes throwing litter on the other team's side of the field). However, there are concerns about the future of FIRST and its ability to inspire younger people into STEM. For instance, here are the reactions of two of our new members.
Anya: “I was a little disappointed because I was expecting a more exciting game. But I am glad that I at least get to be part of a team and experience FIRST.”
Adam: "Is this a joke? I somehow thought this was a joke."
This shows the negative side-effect of having less interesting games as they do not appeal to those new to FRC. This year's game may be a sign that FIRST is removing the C from FRC in order to make useful robots applicable in real-life. However, in doing so, FIRST will be removing the excitement that inspired many to join robotics in the first place. Everyone can relate to sports such as basketball and soccer, which is why many FRC games were sports related, but who goes and gets all excited about box stacking robots?