When it comes to youth ministry games, sometimes the best thing to do is to ditch the athletics and gross food, and give a HUGE shoutout to the nerds in the room! This is why Bill McLarty and I planned a life-sized game of Minecraft for our Winter Retreat this year. I have never had as much long-lasting excitement about a game either. If you are looking for a blockbuster game to do on the opening night of your retreat or event, look no further! Let’s break down the setup.
- Boxes – The most crucial part of the game is the cubed boxes. We found the best rates on uline.com. You can get cubes at varying dimensions in standard cardboard brown or in white. Match the dimensions to the scale you want the game. We went with 10x10x10 because we wanted it to be taller than our students so they would have to reach up to the top rows. You can play on a tabletop version if you got smaller boxes and want to save on cost.
- Pattern– You need to design the pattern you want the students to build. We started with an 8×8 blank graph and filled in colors on the sheet. This meant we needed 64 boxes. We decided to stick to the Minecraft theme, but we would have done more if we had time. There are funny Angry Birds, Hello Kitty, and Star Wars Minecraft faces you can google online. You can find almost any theme you want for the pattern. Either way, you can fill out the pattern the way you want the boxes to look. Here are our patterns for creeper, steve, and the axe!
- Colors– This is the tricky part. In order for this game to work, every box needs to be identical. This means you have 6 colors to choose from to put on each box. (Don’t try to make boxes different, it gets super confusing and it overcomplicates the setup.) go to the office store and bring the right colors back and cut down paper to the size that matches the dimensions of your boxes (for our 10x10x10 boxes, we had to buy 11×17 paper). Then use spray adhesive to glue them on the boxes. If you want to use paint, you will have more color options, and it may be cheaper than buying specialty paper (though a lot messier).
Of course, there are different ways that you can do the gameplay. The theme of our retreat was about community, which made it relevant for our games to be teamwork oriented.
- Scatter the boxes all over the stage and floor before the students enter the room. For extra effect, play the original Minecraft theme song during their entry, and watch them freak out!
- Choose a boy team and a girl team (more students per team depending on the scale of the boxes)
- Project the pattern you want them to build on the screen
- Play some awesome music
- Countdown to start
- Call up more students if the pace is too slow
- The first team to finish building the pattern perfectly wins! Be sure to double check the pattern carefully before declaring a winner. It should look something like this.
- For extra effect, have characters from Minecraft come out and knock down the boxes. We had Steve and a Creeper come out dressed up with their box heads!
I can’t recommend this game enough. Once you see the cheerful faces of some of your students who have always stayed on the sidelines, you’ll realize that this game was worth your time and money. I just wish I had an online guide on how to create this game, which is why I am writing this post for all of you. Take this game to camp this year. Your students will dig it!
Feel free to comment with any questions.