Students at Manhattan Free School, a Free School in Manhattan, plan to create an arcade video game for the school.
Inspired by Killer Queen Arcade, a multiplayer arcade game featured at the Museum of the Moving Image, a parent at the school, Geva Patz, asked some of the students if they would like to make their own game, and was met by an uproarious enthusiasm.
On a Tuesday, the four people making the game sit in a chilly room. This is the first meeting of the group dubbed the “Gameteam.” They begin to throw out ideas and get a shape of what the game will be. One student takes notes. The room is buzzing with energy and by the end of 30 minutes, the Gameteam has pretty much designed the entire game. It will be an arcade game wit platforms. Four to six players will participate on two teams, controlling either aliens or astronauts. With goals to destroy the opponent’s base, kill the opposing team all at once, or capture a central Beacon, each team will embark on an epic journey to conquer a little bit more of the galaxy.
The group is powering ahead, already having done 85% of the artwork and 95% of the game design. Who knows what lies ahead in one school’s quest for a homemade arcade game.
Follow along with this story to hear more exciting updates from the MFS Gameteam.
The October MFS trip was great. It was the first time that intend of replacing my “normal” schedule with doing other interesting things, I kept up with my other work while doing cool projects. This way, I didn’t have to scramble to catch up once I got home. These are some of the things we did. Some parents brought in a fog machine, so we got it running and filled a couple of rooms with fog. Then: Light bulb! There was a pumpkin sculpting class happening in another room, so I went over there and and told them my idea. A few minutes later we had a beautifully carved pumpkin with fog gushing out of its open mouth!
A while late (after I went off to do some other things) a few people took the fog machine and started pumping fog out of the window. At that moment, a Google Street View Car drove past the building. Maybe in a couple of months, if you look up Manhattan Free School on Google Maps, you’ll see fog pouring out our window!
Geva, an MFS parent, brought in an extremely strong laser, strong enough that we had to wear special goggles and go into a separate room. After burning and melting several things as tests…
a laser was attached to the head of the 3D printer and, using some code I wrote to control the printer from the command line, we were able to laser cut paper into shapes. Here’s a video:
There is a plan to cut cool stencils out of vinyl with this at some point.
Other things that happened included:
Destroying stuffed animals,
Skateboarding and Ripstiking in the park,
and of course, tons of Pokémon!
Today we’re back in the city at Manhattan Free School!
Douglas (an MFS student) and his dad Geva got a 3D printer for the school–in kit form. I came down to helped them set it up. It was an awesome experience. Since I got my 3D printer pre-assembled, it was great to be able to build a similar (same company, different model) printer from the ground up. I also had a great time joking around about rhinos, bicycles, superglue, nanobots, and hegemony/world dictatorship with Douglas and Geva. I’ll be going back down at least once a month. Some of the things I’ll be doing include helping set up the Makerspace there and, at some point, helping Geva run a “Make Almost Anything” class for the students and others.
A bag of parts
Setting it up to print
At Manhattan Free School, I made a banana piano with the MaKey MaKey, a small device that lets you operate a computer using everyday objects. I plugged it in to the computer and then attached it to the bananas using pipe cleaners in place of wires. Then I held on to the MaKey MaKey’s ground output, and by touching a banana I complete a circuit and the computer thought I was pressing a key. After pulling up an online piano, I could play the bananas.
It was a cool thing to do, and it was fun to teach the other kids how to use it and how it worked.