Project Genesis

A project log for Speed Jenga

An augmented version of JENGA® utilizing a kitchen scale and game software

AndrewAndrew 12/21/2019 at 13:380 Comments

This project has been a work in progress, off and on, for the past few years. It's seen short bursts of work and interest and changed over time. As an attempt to summarize this work and push it forward, Zac and I have decided to publish this project to the community.

Zac enjoyed the pacing and challenge of speed chess. He also enjoyed Jenga. When he took the same time keeping pacing and format of speed chess and applied it to the game of Jenga he found it to be an improvement on the original game. It was just fun. And, it seemed we weren't the only ones that thought so! A brief search online (check out YouTube for some ideas) shows that this is a known and fun way to play Jenga!

Zac started tinkering around in Python and built some game code. His first version managed the turns, kept track of time, and allowed for more than two players at a time. I added a big rocker switch to a Raspberry Pi and we were up and running. It was still fun. 

We liked this even more, but hitting the switch every time took away from the fun of the game and was easy to forget. We wanted something more natural. We wanted some intelligence in the tower itself to know when we took a block off and when we placed it back on. We threw around ideas, like RFID tags in each block, individual electrical contacts running up and through the tower. Those ideas seemed too complex and not really feasible. Then we added the OpenScale.

With the OpenScale, we had easily readable data of the tower weight. Zac explains in his software log post how we translate that reliably into gameplay data. It worked, was fun, and was the best gameplay experience yet! He added the gameplay mechanic of a pause block to allow more control over tower construction for each player. With multiple players and a time and turn element, each game now had a winner, not only losers.

So, that's where we are now. It's been a bit of a slow burn of a project, but a fun one. Moving forward, we want to make this game more portable, more reliable, easier to use, and more accessible. We'll be posting project updates, logs, past work, gameplay videos, and rules.

Hopefully, there's some others here on this site that also like to game, and can enjoy this particular project as much as we have!