Part 2: Free Sites for Student Game Creation… Get In the Game with GameMaker


Welcome to another post devoted to learning in the 21st Century. As you may know I have several series posts I am writing at the current time. They include Digital Curriculum, Project Based Learning, and Website Evaluation. This post is a second in a series of posts dedicated to Games in Education. Also,  coming up on Saturday, April 30 I will begin my Lenovo ThinkCentre M90 give away! It will be your chance to win a 23 inch touchscreen all-in-one computer. Hint… start coming up with some great educational game sites to share!  Please take a moment to subscribe to this Blog by RSS or Email! I enjoy seeing new subscribers that I can network with! Your subscriptions mean a lot to me! Also you can follow me on Twitter at mjgormans and explore my wiki of resources at 21centuryedtech.wikispaces.com. Now let’s get into the game… and have a great week! – Mike

Do you and your students like the idea of creating some pretty cool games? Want to learn about a free and exciting resource that will engage students as they pursue game creation?  Allow me to introduce you to Game Maker 8.1 from the people at Yo Yo Games. GameMaker works on the premise that playing computer games can be a lot of fun, but having students design their own computer games for the enjoyment and learning experience by others opens up a whole new game. GameMaker changes the way students can create games. Best of all, GameMaker allows students to create their own computer games quickly without the need to learn a programming language. The program offers an intuitive and easy to use drag-and-drop interface that allows students to make their own games quickly. Students can import and create images, sprites (animated images) and sounds. In fact, GameMaker is bundled with a considerable collection of exciting resources to get the beginner started. Learning and practicing skills such as defining the objects in a game and indicating their behavior facilitates critical thinking.  Students will enjoy the opportunity to design and build appealing rooms (levels) in which their game will take place.

Gamemaker is available for both the Windows and Mac interface. It currently comes in two editions, the Lite Edition and Standard Edition. The Lite Edition can be used free of charge and while it has some limited functionality and displays some popup messages, it is priced right. To get started Gamemaker must be installed on a local computer. Download and installation instructions are found at the download site.  GameMaker will install images, sprites (animated images) and sound effects on your computer, which can be used free of charge in your games. The first time GameMaker is run the user is asked to choose between Simple or Advanced mode. I suggest  that students begin with simple mode (so select No). In simple mode fewer options are shown. There will always be the opportunity to easily switch to advanced mode later using the appropriate item in the File menu. Upon opening, students will also be shown a tutorial at the right of the window. The tutorial will teach them how to quickly create their first couple games. I believe the tutorials are essential and will guide them through the basic steps in using GameMaker. They will learn the under lying ideas involving sprites, objects, events, rooms, and actions. These are important concepts in the world of game programing. These tutorials can also be accessed from the Help Menu. Want even more tutorials to learn and practice with?  Then check out this webpage that may have just the answer.

Once students learn the basics they can try programing their own creations. You may wish to encourage them to build games that practice key concepts in contents standards while allowing them to engage with other classmates’ creations. Perhaps students could work in collaborative groups to create games that allow younger children to practice their academic skills. You may even wish to have your school or district sponsor a competition. Best of all, the practice of game creation allows students to experience success through a process of trial and error. Whether playing or creating a game, students discover naturally the necessary skill of performing self assessmment in a formative manner.  This  is an important 21st century skill needed for a future demanding a workforce of successful problem solvers.

Want to learn more about Game Maker and its uses? Then check out this interesting site filled with suggestions and activities. Take a look at  still another website containing additional ideas and challenges. You may also wish to investigate these additional tutorials. Take a moment and give Game Maker a try. It took me about 30 minutes to put together my first game using a provided tutorial. As in all websites that advocate sharing, be sure to teach your students proper web safety. Also, it is always a good idea to obtain parental permission and be sure to follow  specifications of your school AUP. Remember, students should not give information in posts, forums, or even through their game creations. Whether it be a few class sessions, or an entire unit, giving students the opportunity to create their own games will open up a new world of 21st century skill aquisition!

Thanks for joining me as I continue my gaming series. In my next post discover an amazing game creation site that carries a theme encouraging students to get active and solve problems on their own street, in their own towns, and around the world. I know you will enjoy it. Make sure you get ready for my Web Evaluation Series along with further exploration in Project Based Learning. Also, stay tuned for that Lenovo ThinkCentre M90 give away! Please take a moment to subscribe to this Blog by RSS or Email! Your subscriptions mean a lot to me! As always, you can follow me on Twitter at mjgormans and explore my wiki of resources at 21centuryedtech.wikispaces.com. Please share this post with other by using the retweet button below… and have a great week as you get into the game! – Mike 

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2 responses to “Part 2: Free Sites for Student Game Creation… Get In the Game with GameMaker

  1. Pingback: Part 2: Free Sites for Student Game Creation… Get In the Game with GameMaker | 21 st Century Educational Technology and Learning « The Sharing Tree

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