Interactive Objects

Activation Distance

You can control how close a user must be to interact with an object, which is called the Activation distance.  From the Object Picker, in the Object Interactions section, enter the maximum number of tiles a user can be from an object to interact with it. This distance includes all diagonals and is measured starting from the outermost edge of the tile(s) the object is contained within.

You can set the Activation distance for any object in the Object Interactions section of the Object Picker. 

If you do not set an activation distance for an interactive object, it will default to 3. If set to 1, the user can only interact with the object when they are in the tiles directly next to the object. If set to 0, the user must stand directly on top of the object to interact with it.

This document takes up 1 tile and has a default Activation distance of 3, which means anyone standing within 3 tiles of the object in any direction will be able to interact with it .


This piano has a 2x3 tile size and an activation distance of 3. The Activation distance begins at the edge of all of the tiles the object exists within. 

Embedded Website

You can link any embeddable website inside of an object and have it open directly inside of Gather within an iframe. This includes individual Google documents, spreadsheets, and forms, but not Google Drive File Directories.  Almost any site can be embedded as long as the website administrator allows embedding.

To embed a website, select a object and click on "embedded website" under the Object Interactions.

An animation showing how to embed a document using the object picker. You can use any object in the object picker to embed a website. This example specifically uses the document object.

Embedded Website Troubleshooting

To make sure the website you want to use can be embedded, you must make sure that:

1.) It is an HTTPS site. Unfortunately, HTTP sites will not work due to security concerns.
2) The website administrator allows embedding. If they do not, you will get a message saying "refused to connect" or something similar. You can test this here: https://www.w3schools.com/tags/tryit.asp?filename=tryhtml_iframe 

Warning: Some sites might require that you allow 3rd party cookies to display properly.

Note: Not all websites are the correct format to be embedded within Gather, and it is also common practice that companies and website hosts block embedding or their URLs to avoid spam. 

A workaround for websites that can not be embedded would be to paste the URL within the object as a note interaction. This will allow the participants to see a URL when they interact with that object, like in the screenshot below. If they click the URL it will open the website in a new tab. 

To add a URL in a note, open the Object Picker, select an object, and under Object Interactions, click Note Object. Then add the URL in the Message field. 

To add a URL in a note, select an object, and under Object Interactions, click Note object. Then add a message and place the object in your Space.

When a user is within activation distance, they can press "x" to view the Note. They can click the URL to access the website.

A screenshot of what participants will see when they interact with an object that has a URL pasted as a note interaction.


Embedded Images

Embedded Image objects let you upload your own image or poster to Gather inside of an interactable object. When someone is within the activation distance of the object, they will see a small pop-up preview of your image. When they interact with those objects, the full images will open up inside of an iframe!

Here's a video that walks you through embedding images using our poster set templates, otherwise read on for more info!



Embedded Image Objects include a preview of your image that appears when you approach the object and are within its activation range.

An example of the preview seen when you approach an embedded image. 

In order to upload and embed an image, the image must be:

  • in .png,  .jpg, .webp format
  • at least 1000px for the width
  • at least 600px for the height
  • max 3MB in size

We recommend a minimum DPI of 72, but this is not a requirement. All images will be enlarged to fill inside of the iframe, so exact dimensions and proportions are not required.  Transparent backgrounds will be filled with a black background.

 When you interact with the embedded image, the full image will open inside of an iframe.

This is what it looks like after you interact with an embedded image object with the 3 additional image navigations tools on the right side. 

Optional Caption

You have the option of including a caption or short blub when you first create your embedded image object. This will appear when you interact with the image object when you mouse over the information icon on the right side of your image.

An example of the caption appearing when you mouse over the information icon on the right side of your opened image object.

Presenter Mode

After interacting with an embedded image, you and anyone else who has opened the image may use the "Presenter Mode" tool on the right hand side to click and indicate specific areas of the image or poster that you are discussing. Everyone who has the image open will see the locations that you click on while in Presenter Mode. The indication will appear as a small colored circle that will disappear after a few seconds. 

Presenter Mode will appear on the right side of an opened image object, below the caption and above the zoom tool.

Additional Information

Here's a great article one university wrote up about their poster upload experience as well - https://photonicsonlinemeetup.org/virtual-poster-session-gather-town/.

Embedded Videos

If you'd like to show showcase a video or set up a livestream, you can embed video into an interactive object. The following platforms are great options for sharing video:

  • YouTube
  • Vimeo
  • YouTube live (livestreaming)
  • Twitch (livestreaming)
  • Or really anywhere with HTTPS and a video embed link.

You can manage interactive objects through the Build tool while you're in your Space, or you can manage your objects while in Mapmaker mode. Either way, you will need the URL of the video you wish to embed.

Note: Inserting the interactive object using the Build tool in your Space makes it easy to test your video, while using Mapmaker mode allows you to see the specific tile onto which you're placing the object.

Embedded Video Options

Using the Build tool in your Space, or the Object picker in the Mapmaker, select a tv or other object to interactively show your video. In the Object picker, in the Object interactions section of the right-hand panel, click Embedded video


A view of the object picker in Build mode, with TV on a stand selected, and the Embedded video button in the Object Details menu highlighted by a red box.In the Object picker, in the Object interactions section, click Embedded video.
(View from the Build tool)

Copy the URL into the Video field. In Activation distance, enter the distance (in tiles) at which the user can interact with the object.

A view of the object picker in Mapmaker mode, with TV on a stand selected. Red boxes are around the Video and Activation distance fields.After clicking on Embedded video, enter or paste the URL into the Video field. Enter the distance (in tiles) in which you can interact with video in Activation distance.
(View from Mapmaker mode)

Return to your Space and test interacting with the tv. The object should be highlighted in yellow when you are within activation distance. Press "x" on your keyboard to play the video on fullscreen within your Space. 

Note: A preview of the video shows in the left of the map when you are within activation distance. You can click the Play button in the preview to play the video outside of fullscreen mode.

View of a Space with a character named Lola standing next to a tv on stand, which is outlined in yellow to indicate it is within activation distance. The words "Karoake time!" display in a box outlined in red, with text saying "Prompt" next to it. A preview image of a video displays in the bottom left of the screen. It is highlighted in a red outline and the word "Preview" displays next to it.When interacting with an embedded video object, a preview displays in the left corner of your window. Any Prompt message you add displays above your center menu. Press "x" to open the video fullscreen.

Note: For more troubleshooting and advanced settings for YouTube videos, read their documentation

Advanced Video Settings in Gather

You can fine tune settings for the embedded video from the Object picker by clicking Advanced options.

Select Advanced options in the Object details menu to view additional settings you can modify for your videos.

Prompt message - Enter text that displays at the bottom center of the page when walking within activation distance of an object.

Object image - Select a custom image that appears on the map when the object is not within activation range. 

Active image - Changes the image that appears when the object is within activation range. By default, this is a yellow highlight around the object. 

Synchronized start time - Select a time and date for the video to play to everyone within activation distance. 

Warning: If you are using a livestream link,  do not set up a start/sync time. This will prevent the livestream from playing.

Object active start time - Select the date and time when the object should appear on the map.

Object active end time - Select the date and time when the object should disappear from the map.

Synchronized Videos

Want to schedule a movie night or invite clients to a scheduled demo? You can use synced TVs for that! Gather supports synced objects, which are set to start playing an embedded video at the same time for everyone. 

Add a TV

From your Space, select Build in the Left Nav Menu. Select Edit in Mapmaker. (While you can add and erase objects from your Space, best practice is to manage objects in the Mapmaker.) In the Mapmaker, select Objects in the Top Nav Menu. In the Objects tab in the right panel, select More Objects. The Object Picker opens. Search for a TV and select the one you wish to use.

To set a synchronized start time, simply select the time and date you would like your video to automatically start in the appropriate field.

Embedded video options with the Synchronized Start Time field boxed under the advanced options setting. 

To test your synced TV to see if the video plays back properly, set the 'time' for a time ~1 minute in the past, and make sure the video plays accordingly. (It should start ~1 minute in.)

Video objects with a sync time set that have not yet reached their sync time will appear on the map, with a blank black screen. The blank screen will continue to display until the start time you have entered. Guests will not be able to start playing the video on their own.

A black screen with small white text that reads "There's no video playing right now!"

Warning: You cannot use the Synchronized Start Time in conjunction with Live Streams. 

For more info, see our Synced TV Object tutorial. Please note that the mapmaker interface is outdated in this video, but the general workflow remains the same.

External Calls

Here's a short video on how to place External Call Integration objects. The interface is outdated, but the functionality remains the same. 


This feature currently works for any pre-set meeting link; Zoom, Google Meets, Teams, Webex, etc. 

Joining the Call

User enters a Gather room that has a press 'x' to enter zoom call button. 

  • They see this text

Text User sees after clicking 'x' to interact with the external call integration object. 

  • Click on the zoom link and open the zoom application ins a separate window, Gather will auto-mute the user's video and audio output. 
  • Enter presentation is hosted on Zoom directly
  • They exit the zoom call, and head back to Gather to see this message. They click the green button to enter the Gather space exactly where they last left off. 

Button to re=enter Gather space after the external call


Tips and Tricks:  

  • Make sure to increase the activation distance (found under the advanced options for the external call integration object). This will guarantee that anyone who walks into the entire room/area that you designate for the external presentation will be able to press 'x' to interact. Otherwise, you will have too many people crowded in one small area. 
  • We also frequently see hosts create larger custom objects rather than using our blank object image, so it is visually obvious to users that there's an object to interact with. 
  • We also frequently see hosts place multiple instances of the same external call object around the room (or in multiple rooms) so more users can interact easily with the object.

If you choose to rotate zoom links throughout the day, you will need to either:

a) designate someone to enter builder mode in the space, erase the object with the old call link, and place a new one (with a new link) during the period of time between speakers, or

b) create visually different objects or places (eg: signs) in the room where people can walk to to get the next zoom link. 

Both of these might be trickier than hosting one big zoom call for the room, depending on what you are comfortable with; by default, the 'zoom call integration' object is invisible, and so it will not appear to either participants or builders visually on the map. 

If you expect less than 100 participants, using Gather's spotlight feature (and screenshare for slides) might also be an option, although that 100 is a fairly hard limit.

Note Objects

You can place messages inside of note objects. This is handy if you are designing a game or encouraging exploration of a Space, or if you want to let a co-worker know you stopped by. 

A screenshot of the desk area in the Office Complex. The center of the screen shows a large yellow sticky note with the message "Hey Riley! Just missed you. Let's meet in the coffee bar at 2 pm. -Bob" There is a coffee cup emoji after "2 pm." An x displays at the top right of the note to close it. Leave a note on someone's desk to let them know you stopped by. Just press "x" to open Notes.

Add a Note

In your Space or the Mapmaker, open the Object Picker and search for "note." Select the Note object. In the Message field, enter your text. (Example: Hey Riley! Just missed you. \n \n  Let's meet in the coffee bar at 2pm. ☕️ \n - Bob) Select your Activation Distance (how close you need to be to interact with the note). 

Note: To add a line break, use \n or \r. (Example: Hey! \n Just missed you!)

Tip: Add emojis using your machine's native emoji picker! (Windows: Windows key + period; Mac: Ctrl + Cmd + Space

Edit Note

If you want to change the message of a note, you must use the Mapmaker. With Objects active in the Top Nav Menu and the Select tool active in the Left Nav Menu, click the note object you wish to edit. Update the text. Click Save in the Top Nav Menu when you're finished.

A screenshot of the Mapmaker for the desk area within the Office Complex. The Select icon is outlined in a yellow rectangle in the Left Nav Menu. A yellow arrow points to the object in the Mapmaker, which is outlined in white. A yellow rectangle outlines the Message field in the left panel to edit the text. Use the Mapmaker to edit the note. With the Select tool active for Objects, click the note. Update the Message and click Save.

Delete Note

To remove a note quickly while in your Space, click Build in the Left Nav Menu. The Build panel opens. Select the Erase tab. Move the red rectangle to the note object and double click. The note will be deleted.
A screenshot of the desk area in the Office Complex. In the Left Nav Menu, the Build icon is outlined in yellow. The Build panel is open, and the Erase tab is active and outlined in yellow. A yellow rectangle points to the note object on the desk, which is outlined with a small red rectangle. To delete the note, click Build, then click the Erase tab. Double click on the note to delete it. 

Advanced Options

When you add an interactive object, there are several advanced options that allow you to finely tune a person's experience with the object. These options are great for creating escape rooms and adding easter eggs to your Space! 

Tip: The Pirate Office and Dungeon Escape templates feature several of the advanced object interactions described below.

Add Advanced Options

To add advanced options to an object, head to the Object Picker. Choose an object. If your intent is just to create an object that changes when you approach it, select Note object. Select Advanced options.

A present object is selected in the object picker. The Advanced options drop-down is outlined in red in the right panel.Choose an object, select a type of interaction, then select Advanced options. 

The Advanced Options fields display. 

Note: The available features within Advanced Options vary by the type of object interaction you select. 

The present object is still selected in the object picker, but now all advanced options fields display, including prompt message, object image, active image, caption, display (start) , and display (end)You can add a prompt message, edit images, add a caption, and choose when the object will display on the Map.

Prompt Message

When you approach an interactive object, a prompt message displays. By default, this message is "Press "x" to interact." You can create a custom message. This feature is often used to provide instructions.

Object Image

When you choose an object from the object picker, the default Object Image is the object you selected. You can upload your own custom image by selecting Choose File and using your file explorer to select an image (.png or .jpg).

Active Image

By adding an active image, when anyone approaches the object, the image changes once they're within the activation distance. You can upload your own custom active image by selecting Choose File and using your file explorer to select an image (.png or .jpg).

An example of an object with an active image is the trap door on the top deck of the pirate ship. When you walk near the trap door, a message displays, and the active image changes to look like the door has opened. A similar thing happens when you enter the cook shack—the roof disappears and the inside of the cook shack is visible!

Loading Icon (Embedded Website only)

If you are embedding a website, you can choose a custom loading icon that displays in the iframe while the website loads. By default, the Gather grapes logo spins as the loading icon. 

Caption (Embedded Image only)

If you are embedding an image, you can add an image caption. The text you add for the caption will display when the image is open and you hover on the "i" icon on the right side of the expanded image. This caption is not alt text. 

Synchronized Start Time (Embedded Video only)

If you are embedding a video, you have the option to set a synchronized start time, which will begin playing an embedded video at the same time for everyone. 

  • To test your synced TV to see if the video plays back properly, set the 'time' for a time ~1 minute in the past, and make sure the video plays accordingly. (It should start ~1 minute in.)
  • Video objects with a synchronized start time set that have not yet reached the designated time will appear on the map, with a blank black screen. The blank screen will continue to display until the start time you have entered. Guests will not be able to start playing the video on their own.
  • You cannot use the Synchronized Start Time in conjunction with Live Streams.

Display (start)

Choose the date and time when the object will appear on the Map.

Display (end)

Choose the date and time when the object will disappear from the Map.