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Making an Interactive Board Game with Makey Makey

Making an interactive board game for use in a multitude of subject areas.
Using Makey Makey and Scratch, MSTE Office at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign created a board game about pipeline delivery of oil. This was done by thinking of the process for which Oil Delivery takes place, researching facts about pipelines within the United States and the World, and creating short videos for each of the topics addressed. We created a board that looks like the United States and used copper tape, alligator clips, and jumper cables to connect certain spaces on the board to a Makey Makey. Each of the connected spaces on the board made a video about one step of oil delivery begin to play on the screen. You can modify this approach and make your own creations! The steps we took are outlined below:

1.  Coming up with Topics/content for interactive spaces

     The Makey Makey has a limited number of inputs and creating Scratch code for each one can take some time depending on the complexity of your plans and experience of the programmer. It's best to keep between 5 or 6 topics to create interactive spaces for.

2.  Research and Compile Content for each of the Spaces

     In our game, we did research to learn more about each of the steps oil delivery. It was helpful for me to create a word document where I wrote down interesting tidbits and facts about each of the spaces of the game. Later I went through and decided what out of the variety of facts I compiled was worth talking about in the videos. If you're creating a game that isn't necessarily educational, this is a good time to decide what kind of images and videos you might need to find or create to make your game possible. This is an important step for someone using this as a project in their class, since it is where the majority of the discovery takes place in your project.

3. Create code for your spaces

     Once you have started compiling what you want for each of the spaces, it is time to create the code for your project. Attached to this page is what my code looks like, and it may be a useful guide for your own games. When I was planning for each of the individual videos, I started by creating a short script of information that I wanted and I recorded myself. I then went through the audio recording and marked down time stamps that I wanted an image to show up. I tried to find images based on the audio at that point. You may want to take an entirely different approach, and that is ok too! There are many great ways to make board game alive. You can check out my code through the link included on this page.

4.  Design a Board for your game
     When we designed our board, we first decided which spaces were going to be interactive. We created the publisher file (attached for your viewing pleasure) with some lines drawn on to show how we wanted the tape to go down. Each of the interactive spaces has two holes where the tape pokes through from the back. This is so that when the playing piece lands on the spot, it completes a circuit and the Makey Makey sends a signal to the computer. Each of the spaces are wired to one ground wire, and each topic has it's own connection on the Makey Makey board. Experiment to find how you like your game to work.

After wiring it up, test your spaces with the makey makey and any object that is conductive. Have fun playing your game!

This activity was fun to make and has a wide variety of applications in a multitude of subject areas. We would like to thank Mike Murphy for creating the original Scratch Ed article that outlined his own educational endeavors making interactive games with children. You can check out his work through the link below. He has some great examples of code and ideas to share!