How to Make(y) an Interactive Game

If you’re in #kidmin and you don’t know about a thing called a “makey makey” board, this post’s goal is to remedy that.

Of course, any #kidmin worker knows how important a game can be to a program. It helps get your audience engaged, it can be a great way to get kids up and moving, and sometimes it can be one of the best ways to teach.

The Makey Makey board allows you to turn anything or anyone into a button. While it’s sometimes less than intuitive, once you get the hang of it there’s a lot of fun things that you can do with it.

You can find the product here. The websites general explanation of how the board works is found under their FAQ but this quote gives you the basic idea:

Makey Makey works just like a USB keyboard or mouse, sending keyboard (W,A,S,D, spacebar, etc) and mouse (left-click, right-click, etc) signals to your computer.

Makey Makey Classic works by opening and closing circuits, just like any other button. What’s great is that the Makey Makey board can use the current that goes through your own body to close the circuit, essentially acting as a press of a button on the keyboard.

What this means is if you have a computer program that uses the arrow keys on your keyboard for playing a game, you can end up creating your own game controls and have a lot of fun doing it.

A great resource for those style computer games is crowdcontrolgames.com . I’ve met the guys that have created the website and the games behind it and they really are great guys with a heart for ministry. They also have their own helpful tips and tricks on how to build buzzers and use a makey makey that you can see here.

So if you’re wanting to just experiment with a Makey Makey you can get the board and a few different games from crowd control all for under $100 and then really start to have fun with it. Here’s what I’d recommend getting started.

  1. Get your computer close to the game. 
    When we first started using a Makey Makey it was pretty easy to get the buttons that we wanted to use for the game created but the problem was getting everything ran all the way back to the sound point for our Makey Makey. So if you’re just starting out with it and want to experiment; try running the game from a laptop and having the laptop on the stage. Then you can work on getting the signal from that laptop to your tv’s or projector in the room for the audience to see.
  2. People make great buttons.
    The great thing about the Makey Makey is that you can use people as buttons. Having your contestant hold the wire that connects to the ground or the button you want to be pushed is a great way to make the game interactive. The other simple thing you could do is have them take off their shoes and stand on a contact point.
  3. Food is fun
    We have a popular monkey puppet that we use in our ministry so we really enjoyed building a game where we could just plug in a banana and use it as a button. The best part was we used a 1/8″ audio cable and plugged it directly into the fruit on the weekend, instantly connecting it as a button. That made it pretty fun.
  4. Test it beforehand
    This would seem pretty obvious but I feel like it needs to be said. The Makey Makey board is really fun to use as a creative element but it’s an experimental process. While I think it’s best practice to do a dry run of all of your games before your actual event it’s even more true for using the Makey Makey board.

If you already use a Makey Makey board you probably have tons of great advice on how to use the board to have some fun during a game or even a story. Because this can be such a technical subject I’m actually going to do a few more expanded posts on how to create buttons and how to get the signal to travel farther. Check back next week for more!

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