Start Gaming Early with IKEA High (Score) Chair

If you want your kid to be really great at something, you have to start them out early. [Phil Tucker] must want his kid to be a video gamer pretty badly. [Phil’s] build starts with a $20 IKEA high chair. He likes these chairs because at that price point, tearing into them isn’t a big risk. What’s more is you can buy extra trays so you can use it as a modular project with different trays serving different purposes.

The chair has two joysticks and two buttons, looking suspiciously like a video game controller. The current incarnation (see video, below) uses an Arduino Uno to trigger an Akai MPC1000 synthesizer via the MIDI interface.

Of course, you could control other MIDI devices or even program the Arduino to do other things (like act as a game controller). We’ve seen lots of IKEA hacks, including a laser cutter, a camera slide, and even a printer (not a 3D printer, although we covered that, too).

(Edit: [Phil] sent us another video in which his son isn’t preoccupied with terribly-interesting glasses.)

18 thoughts on “Start Gaming Early with IKEA High (Score) Chair

  1. Gaming is the last thing I would want to encourage any child of mine to do. People spend far too much time watching TV and playing games instead of learning something new and getting out there and actually tying something new. So many young adults have no idea how things work. They have to pay people to do things like oil their sewing machine or change the carbon brushed in their power tools. But hey they have other skills, they can beat up a prostitute on GTA like nobody else and can recite every episode of game of thrones. I know what I would prefer to be good at.

    1. Well, you can easily grow a love for gaming into a love for programming/computer technology, which opens up tons of opportunities to encourage kids to learn how to become adept at math and physics, and artistic work like modeling, music, graphic design, etc. Gaming also helps significantly with hand eye coordination and spatial visualization in 3D. This becomes obvious any time you see older folks who haven’t been exposed to video games / computers try to type or use a mouse, compared to kids who have been using technology from a young age. I type significantly faster than most people because i’m used to writing in chats for online games as well. Computers are a huge part of daily life nowadays so you can’t really say you’re doing your kid a service by keeping them away. Games are an easy way to get kids to learn even basic computer skills.

      I agree gaming can be degenerate and mindless in some contexts, but gaming is not something that’s inherently “bad for kids” as a lot of older folks tend to think. I started to learn how to program at 7 years old because of an interest in video games, and any parent can probably promote the same kind of interest in their child. Starting that early meant i never struggled with math/physics from my early schooling up until university. I don’t think I would have ever been interested in math/physics without game development, and i don’t think i would be as smart as i am today if my parents insisted I go throw a football or “try something new” (something i decided to do on my own anyway) instead of play video games. Playing video games never meant I wasn’t interested in other things, as i also took up learning how to tinker and build things from a young age during the summer when going outside was actually a viable option. I learned carpentry because i wanted to make propellers for things I was building, I learned how to use cad software so i could mock up projects, i learned how to build basic circuits, etc. In winter I played and made video games.

      A lot of students in my mechanical engineering program now don’t know the first thing about modeling/programming/design and struggle with these topics every assignment they get. They call easy numerical methods assignments in matlab “practically impossible” because of the almost non-existant programming required, and have no clue about how to do any kind of design work that isn’t laid out for them step by step. Programming is barely taught to engineering undergraduates who aren’t in a software specific program, even though almost every engineer today is going to have to build systems that interact with software, they receive practically no training. I think anyone who fosters an interest in games and game development will be doing their kid a huge service.

      1. My parents never let me own any video game systems and limited my time playing computer games to half an hour a week until 8th grade. It didn’t hurt my ability to program, 3D model, or use computers at all. I’m really thankful that they raised me without screens all the time. Video games, even minecraft, don’t teach you to imagine worlds like legos and books can.

        1. No one’s saying kids should be raised in front of a screen all the time, but forbidding something because of a lack of understanding or unfounded fear is ignorant. Controlling kids and telling them something is forbidden is a sure fire way to draw attention to those things as well. In fact telling a kid they can’t do something usually hypes them up for it more when you’re not around. You wont be able to moderate what they hear about at school from friends, and what they find cool. Guaranteed they wont share your viewpoint on something they’ve never had exposure to unless you’re downright indoctrinating them to be like you.

          No ones suggesting people can’t be interested in programming etc. if they don’t play games as kids, but it’s just bias to suggest books are somehow more/less constructive than something interactive on a screen which can have just as much reading/storytelling/imagination put in it. A book is not inherently good because it’s words on paper, a book can be crap or great, a game can be crap or great, they’re just things and as a parent you should know what is/isn’t appropriate, but the medium is hardly what matters. Balance in play is good and modern things =/= bad. There’s only so many things you can do with any one toy. Legos are fun and great, but sticking grid aligned plastic together to look like a particular thing is not more or less stimulating than any other kind of toy. Games are just another toy.

          Obviously everyone is biased to think their particular upbringing is somehow more pure or advantageous cause of nostalgia. We’re both in that boat for sure, but I think it’s kind of a poor argument to say something is bad because you weren’t raised that way. I’m not claiming an upbringing without screens has to be inferior, but an upbringing where kids can play around in games isn’t somehow inferior either, it’s just different. It comes with advantages people wouldn’t notice at first.

    2. I wholeheartedly agree with gravatarnonsense, training an infant to respond to noises of weapons and fighting is just beyond me. It’s not even humorous. Studies have shown that the early introduction of electronic gadgets have not improved student education levels, so he’s not ‘getting ahead’ in any sense.

      Mr Tucker, I encourage you to spend the time you would otherwise be teaching your child ‘gaming skillz’ reading to him. Anything: Dr Seuss, a storybook, a novel, a textbook, a car manual, the newspaper, junk mail, even the contents on the side of a ketchup bottle. Any and every little bit helps when engaging with your son, no distracting sound effects are needed. Teach him everything you know.
      I speak from experience in this regard, the results are well worth it.

        1. Toddler-spec would be a good civilian counterpoint to mil-spec. You’d have to rate for drool and food contamination, yanks on cords, throws, etc.

          Some products that come to mind: old Nintendo consoles, Fisher-Price toys, standard tennis balls.

    1. Thankfully the joysticks are super simple mechanisms which can be completely disassembled and washed with very little effort. The buttons, well, they don’t come apart but without the switches they’re just a couple of plastic parts I think a hot water bath would go a long way to cleaning them out. Pictured above is my son, cleaning aside, we swap in a normal tray for meal time, so far, so good.

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