There are several companies manufacturing programmable Arcade game boards that are quite similar to the BBC micro:bit and programmable through the most popular software for the micro:bit, MakeCode. Each of the new boards, ranging in price from $25-$35 (at press time), feature an 8-bit color display, 6-8 buttons, speaker/buzzer, and a micro-USB port for connecting to a computer. Some of the boards feature sensors, accelerometers, and on-board power. Some may even used as the brain in a DIY robot.
Write a program, save it to the Arcade game board, attach a battery, and you have a handheld game machine that will amaze, delight, and entertain your friends. You can even connect two boards together and play head-to-head games that you programmed! Stick the board in a cardboard box, attach a $10 Raspberry Pi Zero, some buttons, and an old display, and you have an arcade machine!
I’ve worked with these boards in the hand of kids and have been impressed by the magic they are able to create quickly. The MakeCode tutorials for the Arcade boards seem more interesting and easier to follow than some of the early materials created for MakeCode. The simulator is quite useful (finally) too in that you can program an entire game and test all of its functionality before you copy the program to the board.
“Making,” actually programming and designing your own video games, for a handheld game machine embraces youth culture in a way that pushes the boundaries of learning by making and builds upon constructionist traditions.
The presenters recently led a successful 12-hour workshop on this topic at the Invent to Learn Chicago Institute.
The presenter has dozens of these handheld devices for workshop use.
First 10 minutes
• Introduce MakeCode Arcade and the variety of microcontroller development boards compatible with it
• Situate this innovation within a tradition of making, computer science for all, and constructionism
Provide participants with good prompts and support materials for designing their own software for use on the handheld gaming devices.
• Share projects
• Explore microBlocks (software) and hardware extensions
• Discuss the experience of the workshop's constructionist approach
Making Games Resources assembled by the presenters at https://chicago.inventtolearn.com/games
 Martinez, S. L., & Stager, G. (2019). Invent to learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, second edition (2 ed.): Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.
 Papert, S. (1993). The Children's Machine: Rethinking School in the Age of the Computer. NY: Basic Books.
 Papert, S., & Solomon, C. (1972). Twenty Things to Do with a Computer. Educational Technology, 12(4), 9-18.
 Resnick, M., Bruckman, A., & Martin, F. (2000). Constructional Design: Creating New Construction Kits for Kids. In A. Druin,
Hendler, James (Ed.), Robots for Kids: Exploring New Technologies for Learning. San Francisco: Morgan Kaufmann.
 Stager, G. (2019). Program Your Own Gameboy. Retrieved from https://inventtolearn.com/program-your-own-gameboy/