GameMaker is a fun, FREE and relatively easy way to develop computer games. GameMaker is part of Yo Yo Games which is a popular brand that you may have come across using your iPad, mobile phone etc. GameMaker is popular and is the most widely used game development product in the world.
I taught GameMaker to Year 8 students last year for a few weeks. It was fun! Although like with most teaching experiences, I would have approached the teaching differently if I had control of the whole unit from start to finish.
GameMaker is ideal to use in an introductory ICT subject. It’s also a great way to engage children in creating something that they enjoy and is fun but also enhances their reading and comprehension skills at the same time. When you install GameMaker it comes with 2 tutorials which require concentration and reading skills to complete. GameMaker also makes you think! You don’t just blindly create a game, you actually have to sit down and think about what you want to do and how you’re going to go about doing it. In my opinion, this type of activity forces the user to think creatively (unlike some of the “home work” activities I’ve seen in previous years!).
It’s a shame that the GameMaker website has to resort to all the side-bar advertising; I know that will turn-off some parents with young children. However, once you download the game you won’t have to see any of it. Or, use it as just another opportunity to discuss advertising and marketing with your children/students.
Those of you following my blog might be interested in my thoughts comparing Alice and GameMaker. I think they are both excellent game development environments. It appears that GameMaker might be easier to use for younger children and has more of a “game” focus. However I still think Alice is an awesome way to introduce object-oriented programming skills. The best person to ask though is your kids! Let them try both. 🙂