Feature image: M-LAB in Vilnius, Lithuania, designed this Sound Branch as an offshoot of the iterative design.

MakeItGo is a collaborative game that facilitates connections across the maker community. The idea is simple: invite a series of makerspaces to co-create an iterative project in which each makerspace builds on the cumulative design of the previous teams’ work. Think of it as an “Exquisite Corpse” game for makers.

The first MakeItGo project, which centered around building a kinetic sculpture, launched in June, 2016. Eleven different makerspace teams from around the world, including California, Oregon, Tennessee, New York, Spain, Belgium, and Lithuania participated over the course of eight weeks. Each team was given 24 hours to modify and reimagine the sculpture using CAD software, and then one team would actually produce the final piece for presentation at World Maker Faire in New York City.

This Tree of Making was the first iteration that kicked off the game, designed at The Gate 510 in San Leandro, California.

Rather than building something with a specific functional intent, the objective to build a kinetic sculpture gave the participants significantly more creative leeway, allowing them to dive headlong into whimsy without being hampered by the practicality of their contribution. Plus, it made it more fun to work on.

However, as MakeItGo founder Nathan Parker notes, “This process yields more than mere art. We’re forming friendships and collaborations that create an active network through which these spaces can share resources and expertise. We’re not only bringing value to each other, but we’re taking on the challenges of the world in new and effective ways.”

Lighted appendages attach to the tree’s branches in this render from MakerPlace in San Diego, California.

The MakeItGo organizers were careful to design the game to offer just enough time for teams to engage in a meaningful way on the artwork, but not so much that they’d get bogged down in an intensive creative process. It was also important to establish guidelines and boundaries (such as “kinetic sculpture”) so teams didn’t run off into the weeds or get confounded by a lack of direction. Lastly, it definitely helped to start with a design seed that would create an extensible foundation on which other teams could build.

Neat idea, right? It’s easy enough to do it yourself. Gather some makers, come up with a plan, a schedule, and a way for everybody to communicate, and have at it. Scale it as big as your ambition. Most importantly though, enjoy the process as much as the final product — have fun making!