It may seem daunting to develop a game, let alone find the resources for your child to do so. But game development tools have never been more accessible to a wide range of age groups and target audiences. When our children develop games of their own, they are learning by creating and going through a trial and error process similar to that in project-based learning. In order to successfully create a game, children need to use their planning skills to develop the content, working memory to mentally access coding information while working, organization to keep all this information straight, and flexibility to know when to look at a problem from a different angle. Here are four resources for kids who want to make their own video games:
For the Youngest Game Developer: Thinkrolls Play and Code
For the youngest game designers, Thinkrolls is an age appropriate app that allows children to create their own games while being introduced to the basics of coding. Children can create their own logic puzzles by dragging and dropping elements onto a blank space and then test them out to check to see if they work. They are also able to search for puzzles made by other children and play through them to gain inspiration for their own games. Thinkrolls Play and Code is available for purchase on iOS and is geared towards children ages three to eight years old.
For Those Who Want To Make a Game But Don’t Know Where to Start: Game Builder Garage
For slightly older players who want to learn about game development and create games as they are doing it, Game Builder Garage is a fun way to accomplish both. They player is guided by Bob and Alice, two sprites who explain the concepts of game design using fun anthropomorphic characters called Nodons. Nodons are used to build games in seven different categories, with challenges interspersed throughout to help test your skills. Players can then create their own game library, share it with others, and search for games from other users. Game Builder Garage is now available for purchase on the Nintendo Switch.
For Those Who Want to Make Games Using Familiar Faces: Super Mario Maker 2
If your child spends most of their time creating complex paths for their toys to navigate, Super Mario Maker may be the game for them. This game is specially designed for the player to create their own side scrolling Mario levels. Before diving in, a feature called Yamamura’s Dojo will give the player all of the information they need to get started, neatly divided into Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced options. In addition to the creation side of the game, there is also a story mode where the player is completing building challenges to earn coins that can be spent on fixing a broken down castle. If your child loves Mario and wants to make their own games, picking up Super Mario Maker 2 is a no brainer. Super Mario Maker 2 is now available for purchase on the Nintendo Switch.
For Those Who Want to Delve Much Deeper Into Game Creation: Dreams
From the studio that created Little Big Planet, Dreams is a Playstation 4 game where the user can create any kind of game that they can conceive of. The game is split into two different portions: Games that can be searched for and played and a Game Creation area where the player is walked through the process of creating something completely their own. This game is very involved and might be more appropriate for older children who are interested in making their own games but also have good enough reading skills to move through the tutorial without feeling frustrated. Dreams is now available for purchase on the PS4.
What game creation resources has your child found success with? Let us know in the comments below!