Game 1: Shakey Donkey

Chapter 4 image


Let’s put everything you have learnt so far into practice with a fun game. If you have not already seen it, Shakey Donkey is a micro:bit game that uses the micro:bit's radio 1.

Shakey Donkey is played with two players, and it measures how fast you react to a donkey appearing on your micro:bit's display. The game starts with shaking micro:bits. The moment your micro:bit displays a donkey, you should shout “Donkey!” and shake your micro:bit to make it disappear. In the end, when you press the button A, if your micro:bit displays a happy face, you won!

In this chapter, you will practice:

  1. the concept of group communication

  2. using group or multicast address

  3. sending and receiving messages

  4. shake and button inputs

  5. program variables and random numbers

What you’ll need

2 micro:bits
1 whiteboard/board
Boardmarkers/post-it notes
1 teammate

Programming: Playing Shakey Donkey

Description: To be able to play this game in groups of 2, you will set a unique group ID for your pair. Then you will program the Shakey Donkey game given to you in three parts in the following figures.

Instruction: To set your groups, repeat the activity from Group communication: One to Many. Make sure your group IDs are unique!

The game is played by shaking your micro:bit each time the donkey appears on your display to get rid of it. The first thing to do is to import your modules and define your variables.

from microbit import *
import random
import radio

caught = 0
me = 0
you = 0

donkey = Image("""00009:

Shakey Donkey program - Part 1: Define your variables and the donkey image.

Next, program what your micro:bit should do “On shake”. This is shown in the figure below.

while True:
    if accelerometer.was_gesture("shake"):
        if caught != 0:
            me += running_time() - caught
            sleep(random.randrange(0, 2000))


Shakey Donkey program - Part 2: Shake your micro:bit to send your reaction time.

Notice that, in this second part, your program sends a number. So, you need a piece of code for handling a received number. This third part is shown in the next figure. Add it to your code.

    number = radio.receive()
    if number is not None:
        if number.isdigit() == True:
            caught = running_time()
            you = int(number)

Shakey Donkey program - Part 3: Receive the other player’s reaction time, and display the donkey.

The fourth part, shown in the next figure, handles the case when the button A is pressed. This part of the program decides whether you won or not. Add this part into your program too.

    if button_a.is_pressed():
        if (me > you) {
        } else {
        me = 0
        you = 0
        caught = 0

Shakey Donkey program - Part 4: Press button A to learn the result.

Download the program into your micro:bits. Play the Shakey Donkey game with your teammate. Then, go through the problems to explain how the program works.


Let’s first look at Parts 1 and 2, given in the first and second figures.

  • In the beginning, what is the value of the "caught" variable for both players? Does anybody need to change the "me" variable?

  • Who gets to send their "me" variable first?

Next, let’s look at Part 3, in the third figure.

  • When you receive a number, you set the "caught" variable. What does the "caught" variable mean?

  • You also change the "you" variable to the "receivedNumber". What does the "you" variable track?

Now, let’s look at both Parts 2 and 3.

  • Imagine you already started playing the program. You saw some donkeys appear on your display, and you shook them away. How did your "me" variable change? What is it equal to?

Finally, let’s look at Part 4 in the last figure.

  • How do you know you won? Does the other player know the result? How? Explain how the "me" and "you" variables are used to decide the winner.

  • How would you make sure you win this game?


Solutions for this chapter can be found under the GitHub directory.

  1. This game is by David Whale. We thank him for allowing us to use it in this book.