Teen Programming: Video Game Party in the Library

DSCN2070Video Games and libraries are a perfect mix! Video games are all about storytelling, fun, and artwork. Libraries can run dynamic video game programs for teens – and you don’t need expensive video game consoles to do it.

I decided to run a Video Game Party for the end of the year maker lunch in the high school library. The main event was Makey Makey controlled Super Mario Bros on a projected screen (students could draw their own controller and hook it up to the projector). Teens could barely believe that touching a piece of paper could make Mario run! I also offered video game crafts: Mario Warp Tunnel pencil holder, Skyrim Quest Marker Bookmark, and a Spongebob sculpture. I set up a Summer Reading Display to promote our Teen Bingo card. A lot of prep work was needed, but I’ve included all the resources for free download in this post!


Creating “cool” attractive posters for this event was crucial. I used my new favourite design tool, Canva.com to create promotional posters. I built a Mario Warp Tunnel and set it up with a flyer inside. I also used Canva.com to create the craft station signs. Feel free to use them yourself, or experiment with Canva.

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DSCN2072Makey Makey Mario was a huge hit. I set up our computer/projector cart near the info desk, with the screen facing the rest of the library, which was very attention grabbing. We played Super Mario Bros. In order to properly use the Makey Makey controls I had to adjust the control settings on the game (I changed A to space and B to Down Arrow). I created a useable Makey Makey controller – a replica of the original NES controller, and set up a station (with instruction sheets, pencils, and card stock) for students to draw their own. Nine different controllers were drawn during the 1.5 hours of the event – mostly replicas of NES controller, but with a little flare. The main things to remember when creating your own graphite Makey Makey controller are:

  • Each “button” should be completely and darkly filled in with pencil – no white spaces!
  • Each button needs a thick, uninterrupted graphite pathway to the edge of the paper – this is where you’ll attach the alligator clips.
  • Each button should be completely separate from each other

DSCN2071Students were provided with instruction sheets on how to make a usable Makey Makey controller, and encouraged to experiment with different images (their name in big block letters, random shapes, silhouettes of Mario characters, etc)

On tables behind the computer I set up the crafts. One was a simple cut, fold, and glue Skyrim Quest Marker book mark. I was inspired by this tutorial, but created the template myself by drawing it with sharpie and then photocopying it. I’ve made the PDF available for download. Students were impressed that the library knew what Skyrim was.

DSCN2075The other crafts were cut, paste, and fold sculptures from this website. I found the Warp Tunnel and the Spongebob downloads to be the most simple, which was good for a short, self directed program like this. A group of ~8 teen guys – huge fans of Mario apparently – sat at the table and worked on the warp tunnels.

I also created a pop-up Summer Reading Display, which I will post about separately.

In total, approximately 60-70 teens participated in this program, and many expressed that we should do Makey Makey Mario more often. It was a positive, high energy event for sure! Plus, many teens asked about how the Makey Makey worked, and a few experimented with circuits by making a human chain. I was also able to hand out 40+ Teen Summer Reading Club Bingo Cards (it helps that our prize is $100 to Chapters).


External Resources:

Please let me know if you use any of my resources! What video game programs have you experimented with in the library?

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