Charity is a great, particularly when it’s through an organization like Crisis which supports people who are homeless in the UK. But, to really get the money flowing, it’s best to make giving to charity fun — and even better when you get to have the fun while someone else donates the actual money. Thanks to Liberty Games, that’s exactly what you can do with their online Raspberry Pi-based Santa Claws machine.
Santa Claws is a physical crane game that you can control over the internet. The cabinet is filled with a variety of Christmas-themed stuffed toys, and each toy has an assigned cash value. Whenever you successfully grab a toy and drop it in the chute, Liberty Games will donate the corresponding amount of cash to Crisis!
The Santa Claws machine started out as a Sierra crane game that Liberty Games had sitting in their office collecting dust. Their first step was to slap a webcam on it so that players could see what they’re doing via a live stream. They then used a Raspberry Pi with a PiFace and PiRack hat to control the crane. That’s tied to the website through a custom API so that players can move the crane as they watch the stream.
As a holiday gift to all of us, Liberty Games has also exposed an insider secret that we’ve all long suspected: those crane games are rigged. They’re designed so the claw’s grip becomes weaker as more wins are detected. But, because this is for charity, Liberty Games was kind enough to negate that mechanism. So, get to playing! It’s for charity!