This evening Syston Methodist Church hosted a second Wii Bowling evening. This time it was as part of Syston Churches Together and was raising money for a local project that brings kids from Chernobyl over for a holiday.
If you have not tried one of these then I recommend them as a very simple way to build community.
We ran this time with 4 Wii's (3 for Wii Sports, mainly bowling and 1 for Guitar Hero – all setup using data projectors). We also had an xbox 360 with Kinetic sports (on a good sized LCD TV).
Plus a cafe serving burgers, hot dogs, nachos & cake + tea, coffee & cold drinks.
We run the Wii Sports with 1 controller and up to 4 players at a time. We typically had around 12 people playing games at a time (3 on Guitar hero – the microphone for singing is not that popular), a max of 4 on each of 3 other Wii's and a couple playing Xbox sports.
We charge a flat rate of £1 per person per game (although we didn't tend to charge properly for Guitar hero or the xbox as goes are less well defined and they provide plenty of entertainment for everyone else). With the food as well we made £140 for the Chernobyl Kids from the games and food (after paying the costs).
We find this is popular from about age 4 upwards (everytime we have had at least one 90 year old). Quite a few just come and have some food, chat and enjoy watching the games. Unike many other social events people can pop-in just for a while rather than feeling they need to stay all evening.
The atmosphere is great, from outside it sounds like a real bowling ally (it is nothing like as good if you don't have sound on the Wii's). People mix, chat and enjoy themselves – as a Churches Together event it was good fun and people enjoyed getting to know each other better. We also find that we get at least 1/3 of people coming from the very outmost fringes of the Church communities – more than we manage for almost any other event.
As events go this is a really easy one to arrange. The only bits that take much work are
- finding enough data projectors (a badminton court sized hall is large enough for about 6, this time we only managed 4 plus a big TV).
- sorting out cable connections to get sound for the Wii's that use data projectors. The easiest is to use an iPod doc with aux input. All you need then is adaptors to convert the red and white male phono plugs from the Wii cable to a 3.5mm jack. Maplin have a variety of options.
- finding enough projector screens (our hall walls are not white which means they are not ideal without a screen).
- If like us you don't have many power sockets you are going to need plenty of power extension cables
It is much easier to configure and manage if you only use one controller for each Wii Sports (you will need at least 3 controllers for Guitar Hero). A guitar amp with a "clean" setting works really well for Guitar hero, easily filling a large hall.
Dance and racing games are also really popular (given these are family events and part of the Church I avoid all shoot'em up games).
We simply setup one half of the room as the cafe and the other with the bowling lanes. One small table for each projector, wii and speaker. Then use chairs to mark out all the bowling areas.
We generally offer prizes (chocolates) for the best scores (2 or 3 age groups) plus a better prize for the lowest score.
This is the 3rd time I have been part of one of these and they have all worked well.