Maker Mayhem: a Hackerspace Board Game




Introduction: Maker Mayhem: a Hackerspace Board Game

About: I am a multimedia maker and STEAM educator living in Los Angeles. There are few things more satisfying to me than acquiring and exploring a new skillset, so you'll find a wide variety of materials in my projec…

I am all about the maker movement, and I've been watching a lot of TableTop lately. Seeing all of those different game designs got me thinking about how I'd do my own. You make what you know and love, so I made a game for the maker movement, embracing some of its best traits: openness, collaboration, community, and learning.

Openness - The game and its files are freely available for whomever wants to make it. You're encouraged to change things (the materials, the rules, etc), and also strongly encouraged to share your modifications. There is an intentionally low barrier to entry; I lasercut my tiles, but if you have access to a printer, you can simply print and cut out most game components.

Collaboration - From the beginning, I was firm on this being co-operative rather than competitive between players, because there is so much sharing of information and helping each other out in the maker movement. Also, co-operative games are just fun.

Community - Part of the game board is made up of Makerspace tiles, which can be customized to reflect your local makerspaces or any other set you choose.

Learning - Another set of tiles on the game board are the learning spaces. Each is named for an actual source of information that can get you acquiring a skill in real life.

Maker Mayhem is created by Barb Noren and Chris Ellerby and released under Creative Commons BY NC SA 4.0.

Special thanks to Alex Leonhart, Kevin Jordan, Steve Goldstein, Jay Jacobs, Nathan Hellweg and all the people at Crash Space for their help with this project.

(Yes, I know it looks like Settlers of Catan with the hexagons and dots, but that's where the similarities end. Hexagons happen to be excellent shapes for tiling.)

Step 1: Game Components

  • 19 Board Tiles (6 Makerspaces, 6 Learning spaces, 6 Path/Chaos tiles, 1 home tile)
    • If using laser cut version, C Dots may be used to fill the holes between tiles
  • Board Frame (optional)
  • 18 Skill Badges (3 each of each skill)
  • 24 Learning Tokens (4 each of each skill)
  • Resource Card Deck
  • Chaos Card Deck
  • Spinner or Die
  • Hour Counter
  • Project Cards and writing implement (pencil for plain paper, whiteboard marker for laminated)
  • Player Game Pieces

Step 2: Gameplay


Maker Mayhem is a co-operative board game for the maker movement. Three to six players work together to meet the requirements of a wild project, such as a giant robotic duck. Draw a skill badge and use related Resource cards at friendly hackerspaces all over the board. Visit learning sites to get new skill badges. And beware the Chaos deck, which might help you along, or set you way behind. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the clock, because you have a deadline!


  • Each player picks game piece and places it on home tile.
  • Each player draws 5 Resource cards and 1 Skill badge, lays them face up on table.
  • Draw Project card. Each project has different requirements in each of six categories. Set hour counter to number of hours indicated on the Project card.
  • Player who made something most recently goes first
  • Players take turns moving around the board to fulfill requirements of project.
    • Each Makerspace tile indicates two Resources that you can apply to tasks when in the circle at the center. Resources are used at Makerspaces with coordinating icons and applied to the project tasks.
    • Players must have a card with relevant Skill to use associated Resources at a coordinating makerspace.
    • Players may use any number of a single Resource type during each turn and apply them to the project requirements. (Example: Sparkles draws electrical engineer Skill badge, as well as 2 electronics, 2 fabric, and 1 wood Resource cards. Sparkles may move to a makerspace that has tools for electronics, and when arriving, uses 2 electronics Resource cards to apply toward the project electronics requirements).
    • Players may not use more Resource cards than are required for the project; if only two tasks are left for a particular category of the project and the player has three, they may only play two and must keep the remaining card.
  • Players must always have at least five Resource cards. When cards are spent at Makerspaces, new ones are drawn from the Resource deck until player has five. If player has five or more cards remaining after spending cards, no new cards are drawn.
  • Players may acquire new Skills by visiting Learning spaces. Player goes to the center of a Learning tile, announces which Skill they are trying to learn and receives a Learning token for that Skill. Once player has visited three separate Learning spaces, they may trade their Learning tokens for the associated Skill badge. Once a new Skill has been achieved, player may use associated materials at makerspaces for any of the Skill badges they possess.
  • Players may trade equal numbers of cards when anywhere on the same tile. If a player is on a Chaos spot at the edge of two tiles, they are not considered to be on either tile and cannot trade.
  • When player lands on Chaos spots or C dots, they draw a card from the Chaos deck and do as it says, reading it to the group. Chaos cards must be played immediately unless stated otherwise on the card.

Available actions for each turn:

Each player has up to two possible actions on each turn.

  • Roll/Move
    • Go full number rolled, unless stopping at center of Makerspace or Learning space tile
    • If player lands on Chaos space, draw Chaos card and follow instructions
    • If a player wishes to roll/move, it must be their first action
  • Draw one card from Resource deck
    • If a player wishes to draw a Resource card, it must be their first action
  • Trade Resources with another player anywhere on same tile
    • Both players must be entirely on tile, not on Chaos space at edges
    • An equal number of cards must be exchanged
  • Apply Resources to project if at the center of a Makerspace tile
    • Using Resource cards ends a player’s turn
    • Draw more Resource cards if remaining hand has less than five
    • Players may not apply Resource cards to the main project and stretch goal in the same turn

Each turn costs one hour. At end of each player’s turn, flip counter down one.

Step 3: Game Board Tiles

The board is made up of 19 hexagons. You can print these out on paper, laser cut them, or do something entirely different. CNC in aluminum? Embroidered? Engrave a circuit board with the paths? Surprise me!

There are four types of tiles: Makerspace tiles (where work can be done), Learning tiles (where learning can be done), Chaos tiles (where you draw Chaos cards), and a single home tile at the center. They are laid out as shown in the pictures, but you can experiment with different layouts to see how that effects gameplay.

When laser etching the tiles in acrylic, I found the white etching didn't stand out enough on the yellow and orange acrylic. I solved this by using a black sharpie to color in the etched areas, then wiping off the extra with a paper towel with nail polish remover (don't wipe too hard over the etchings you want to have color). It takes a little practice to get the technique down for wiping off only the extra without removing what you want there, but stick with it. It works well.

Step 4: Game Board Frame

The C dots that go between the tiles do help them stay aligned, but they don't do a very good job actually holding them together, so I decided to make a board to hold all the tiles. I used a pine shelf from some old ikea furniture and milled out the shape with our Shopbot CNC at Crash Space, then sanded it down with a belt sander and an orbital sander, and finally finished it with some boiled linseed oil. I may eventually do a coat or two of poly, but I'm considering adaptations to the board first.

Step 5: Project Cards

The project cards are the specs for each individual game. I've made four projects so far, and expect to add more. This is one of the easiest ways to modify the game; come up with a new project, choose how many tasks are required for each category, and add a stretch goal if you like.

The basic ratio we've found through game testing is 2:1. That is, for 3-4 players, it takes on average 80 hours to accomplish 40 tasks, so you'll find that the regular boxes on my project cards add up to 40. The boxes on the right, for the stretch goal, are an additional challenge to keep players from getting bored when they've finished their tasks, and to make it hard enough for 5-6 players. Having more players means that you're more likely to have more Skills drawn at the beginning. And since learning a new skill is time consuming, this makes the game go way quicker. On average, 20 hours quicker, so to make it harder, I'll add 12-15 more tasks in the stretch goal part of the card.

I printed out the cards, cut them smaller and then ran them through a laminating machine, so that I could reuse them with a whiteboard marker. You can also print them out and use a pencil to keep track of completed tasks. Note: some of the Chaos cards require you to remove some already completed tasks, so make sure you're able to erase your marks.

Step 6: Resource and Chaos Card Decks

The basic version of the Resource cards is included in the files for this step. An upcoming video will show how I made my upgraded versions: collage cards. I had both the Resource and Chaos cards printed at There may be better/cheaper sources, and you can certainly print them onto cardstock from your own computer (or at an office supply store).

Step 7: Skill Badges and Tokens

Choosing Skills and marking that you were learning a new one was originally done with printed cards, which I've included in the files for this. When I was upgrading the game, I decided to get rid of the cards and go with pretty lasercut pieces.

Step 8: Spinner

You need:

  • 1/4" or 1/8" Acrylic (or wood)
  • Super glue
  • Skateboard bearing
  • 3D printer & filament
  • Laser cutter

I made a 3D printed version of this and a laser cut version, and the latter was clearly the better one. Etch/laser cut the base, number disc, and pointer segments, and print the bearing case. The bearing holder that I've included works for my bearings, your mileage may vary. It should be quite snug, I don't have any glue holding the bearing in place inside the holder, just snapped it in.

Since I made the number disc white, I had to color the etching to make it visible. I used the same technique with sharpies and nail polish remover that I used in step 3 for the orange tiles and C dots.

Superglue does tend to discolor acrylic, but when it's the inside of a bond, that doesn't matter so much. Unless your acrylic is clear. I used super glue to attach the base of the bearing holder to the center of the large acrylic base piece, and then the number disc was glued to the center of the bearing holder's top. I glued up the pointer segments and then attached it to the top edge of the base.

You can, of course, replace the spinner with a die. You could even 3d print a die.

Step 9: Flip Clock

You need:

  • 3D printer & filament
  • Nail polish in a contrasting color to the filament (or a dual extruder printer)
  • 2 - 1.5" key rings

Print the pieces, base, and slider, and then use nail polish on the numbers to give enough contrast to read them easily. String them in order on two key rings and hold them in the grooves on the base, inserting the slider to keep them in place (see video).

Step 10: Player Pieces

You can use just about whatever you want for player pieces, though they do need to be small. I made some of my own stl files, which you can download (be sure to make them no more than a centimeter large, which i did in my slicing software). You can also use models you find elsewhere, such as the ones below, again scaled down to no more than a centimeter.


Star Trek Badge

Cute Octopus

I wanted to add more color, so I painted a few with nail polish.

Step 11: Fin - Make Your Own!

Part of the point of this game is for you to download it and make it your own. I would absolutely love to hear any stories, pictures, videos you have of you using or updating the game. If you post about it somewhere, please let me know and I'll link to it here and on so others can enjoy your versions too!

Thanks for reading and watching! Check out my YouTube channel, Barb Makes Things, for new videos about projects and making every Tuesday.

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    3 years ago

    Awesome, well written Instructable.