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Computer Game Making For Kids

Updated on April 21, 2010

Why Should We Teach Kids How to Make Computer Games?

I wrote this lens to link to a variety of effective ways for kids to learn how to create computer games.  Your first question might be, why? 

Whatever you think of playing computer games, making computer games is a creative effort on par with composing music or writing novels.  All creative efforts require a substantial degree of intuition, logic, problem solving, and fun. 

Kids can learn a lot through any effort where they create something from scratch, be it writing, music, or a computer game.  I think computer games are a great way of getting kids interested in creating, because most kids these days love to play computer games.  So they're motivated to start with, especially since they've all had those, "I can do better than this" thoughts when playing computer games.

Teaching kids to create computer games is a way to let them stretch their creativity and intelligence.  There are no bounds for computer games, they can be come as complex as the creator wants, involving many advanced topics in computer science, math, physics, art, etc.   

Game Writing Tools

The first step in writing a computer game is picking a tool to use when writing the game. By tool I mean a computer program or language that in some way makes writing the game a bit easier than it could be otherwise.

For kids who have never done this before, I'd recommend visual tools. Visual tools allow dragging and dropping to create anything from simple to complex games. The complexity of game creation isn't any less with a visual tool, but the details are more hidden.

As an analogy, think of writing a computer game like building a car. You could build every single component in the car from scratch, creating your own spark plugs, etc. Or you could purchase prebuilt parts that hid some of the details you don't want to worry about, and allowed you to concentrate on putting them together to make the car you want.

Visual tools generally provide libraries of prebuilt components you can choose from when creating a game, allowing you to focus on game creation.

Where To Start?

Okay, you've picked a game making tool and want to get started. Most everyone's first instinct is to start the tool and start clicking away.

That is a great way to learn the tool, but when it comes time to write a game, a bit of planning first will go a long way toward making the process easier.

The first thing to do is to write down a bunch of ideas about the game. What is the theme? Who are the main characters? What's the goal? What will game play be like? Is it like an existing game?

All of this gives you a good idea what the game is going to be like. The more questions you ask about the game early, the better the game will be later.

At this stage, anything goes. Write down anything and everything you think should go into the game.

Then, take some individual pieces of the game and see if you can figure out how to do those pieces in the tool you've picked.

For example, let's say that you've decided you're making a game where the player flies a plane across the screen shooting aliens. You might see if you can get the image of a plane to move in the right ways when you press the arrow keys. Don't worry about anything else yet, you're not writing the game, you're learning the tool. Do lots of small bits like this to see if any of your ideas need rethought.

Go ahead and start writing the game when you feel confident you know how to do all the pieces, or at least enough to get a shell of the game running.

Suitable Books For Beginners

These books all deal with making computer games from either a kid's perspective, or at a basic level accessible to kids.

The Game Maker's Apprentice: Game Development for Beginners
The Game Maker's Apprentice: Game Development for Beginners

The book cowritten by the author of Game Maker. A great resource if Game Maker is your tool of choice.

 
RPG Maker 2 (Prima's Official Strategy Guide)
RPG Maker 2 (Prima's Official Strategy Guide)

This book describes RPG Maker 2. While this isn't the newest version of RPG Maker available, the book might be helpful if the docs and tutorials available aren't enough. Start with the docs and tutorials first, though.

 

Finishing The Game

Most people don't finish their games.

The common reason for this is that most people start out wanting to make a game that's way too advanced for the tool they have, and way too big for one person to do in less than a couple of years.

The best approach for your first game is to take your list of ideas, and cut out everything that isn't absolutely necessary for the game. Yes, you'll probably end up with a game that isn't quite what you had imagined, but you'll finish the game.

Once you've finished a game, each game you write after that will become more sophisticated and larger as you gain experience. But if you start too big on your first game, you'll probably give up before you get the experience to finish it.

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Books For More Advanced Use

These books all focus on game programming using a typed in language, so are a bit more complex than those for visual tools. But after you've exhausted the possibilities of the visual tools, this would be the way to go.

A significant investment of time is needed to master these techniques!

Game Programming All in One
Game Programming All in One

This book uses C++, which is freely available for all machines. More advanced than the one that uses BlitzPlus.

 
Beginning 3D Game Programming
Beginning 3D Game Programming

A good introduction to 3D game programming. Again, more advanced than the others.

 
Game Programming for Teens (Premier Press Game Development)
Game Programming for Teens (Premier Press Game Development)

This book uses BlitzPlus, and is the most accessible of the advanced books.

 

More About Me

If you enjoyed this lens, you might also enjoy Who Is Jay Shaffstall?, my lens about myself, which also contains links to other lenses and blogs I've written.

Feel free to share your own thoughts on teaching kids to make computer games. If you have personal experiences, I'd love to hear them, too!

Have any thoughts to share?

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    • profile image

      dgdgd 2 years ago

      Fwyfidjfdhchsud

    • profile image

      alejandro 3 years ago

      were do i go to start

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      I'll try it out! Thanks for the advice on making one! I'll sure owe you!

    • profile image

      SofiaMann 7 years ago

      I'm not sure I could do something. But my kids sure can. Thanks for the info.

    • profile image

      cutiepie1700 7 years ago

      i think it would be good to teach our kids to make computer games because it might be fun for them.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      thank you very much it's really a great topic, but i have to make a simple exiting video game and full of questions,each time the player step on something he have to answer a question to continue, and i'm not a professional programing i'm just a kid so what is the right tool for that ?

    • GonnaFly profile image

      Jeanette 7 years ago from Australia

      My son has started making a few games, but like you said, never finished any. Thanks for a great lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Check out Homeschool Programming, Inc. (www.HomeschoolProgramming.com). They have Windows and Game Programming courses in Visual Basic and C# for kids and teens!

    • athomemomblog profile image

      Genesis Davies 7 years ago from Guatemala

      This is a GREAT lens! My sons are both very into computers and I have little doubt that in a couple of years they will be interested in designing their own games. Thanks! 5*s and an angel blessing!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      @JayShaffstall LM: I find this help full but I have an idea for a game and I'm looking for a certain type of software to help me with it. I want one that is like visual tools but doesn't limit you when you get into it more. Basically, one that easy to start off with but doesn't limit it. I need one that is very flexable and has very good 3d graphics.

    • johnsonyip profile image

      Johnson Yip 7 years ago from Canada

      Thanks I always wanted to make games, but I never got the chance to learn how to since I only know how to make basic form based programs like a calculator with Visual Basic. I check out some of your resources. This site is very useful.

    • Dianne Loomos profile image

      Dianne Loomos 8 years ago

      My kids talked about this endlessly when they were smaller. I'll have to show them this great resource! Blessed!

    • MerylV profile image

      Meryl van der Merwe 8 years ago from USA

      I teach Alice to a class of 7th through 12th graders and they are all really enjoying it. One of my students even put up a lens on it here on squidoo (www.squidoo.com/alice-programming). I highly recommend it as an easy way to program games, but at the same time students are learning all the basics of real computer programming. Next year I plan to teach Scratch to slightly younger students. I will look at the others you have listed too.

      Nice lens!! I am lensrolling it to my lens on Teaching Kids to Program.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      There's a program called 3d gamestudio that I believe is the easiest program so far to create decent video games with no programming. I found a tutorial on the web at http://www.juniorgamemaker.com that can have you creating a video game in about an hour. The good thing is that all the software are free or give a free trial so you don't have to spend any money on software if it's something your not interested in

    • JayShaffstall LM profile image
      Author

      JayShaffstall LM 8 years ago

      Hi Fred, many of the tools linked to from this page are free. Just pick one and go through the tutorials. If you don't like that one, pick another. One of them is bound to match what you're looking for.

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      i can't afford gamemaking software, but iv'e always wanted to make games. what do i do?

    • jp1978 profile image

      jp1978 8 years ago

      Nice list, games are probably the best way to get kids interested in programming.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      thank you so much for your info on game making. i checked out rpg maker xp and alice thanx again tech

      -droid

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      I am a mentally challenged 21 year old, however spend countless hours playing video games.

      Can you steer me in the right direction n order to find suitable training for a career in video game creation?

      Thank you very very much!!

    • TrishH LM profile image

      TrishH LM 9 years ago

      Great information. My 10 year old has been trying to make his own games. He has been using the Gamemaker program. there are a lot of good links and information here that we can use. THANKS.

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      ugh i want to make a game and i am now ok see ya!

    • profile image

      gtafourking 9 years ago

      nice lens mate. be sure to check mine out about

      gta 4 cheats and rate it and leave a comment

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      we like skate boarding and yvideos games and draw funny charaters we also like making cartoon movies with my video camera

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      Awesome Lens! What is your opinion about being able to make backup copies of the games you already own.

      Like what this site does: Backing Up Games

    • JayShaffstall LM profile image
      Author

      JayShaffstall LM 9 years ago

      Hi Shadow! Umm...the link in Game Making Websites titled, "Game Making Tutorials" might be of interest then?

    • profile image

      anonymous 9 years ago

      that doesn't tell me anything. i need a tutorial.

    • JayShaffstall LM profile image
      Author

      JayShaffstall LM 10 years ago

      Hi Evelyn, all my games are in the unfinished category (which is why I can write about the dangers of getting distracted!)

      Hi Adarsha, Game Maker can be used for an fps, the very last tutorial in their list at YoYo Games shows how.

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      I also wanto make a game. I have used Game Maker 4. But that was only for 2D games. So, I want to make 3D games- mainly FPS games. Can you help me?

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 10 years ago from Royalton

      Nice lens. I've lensrolled this lens to www.squidoo.com/edugames. What games have you made?

    • JayShaffstall LM profile image
      Author

      JayShaffstall LM 10 years ago

      I've made a few games using Game Maker. It's the program I like the best, but I know that the web based game making programs are pretty popular, too.

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      did you make a game?

    • Karendelac profile image

      Karendelac 10 years ago

      Very informative, Maybe thanks to you and these books we'll have more fewer Halo's and more Half-life's

      =p

      Please visit my newly launched TITANIC site, I am shooting for #1 oin Squidoo !

      https://hubpages.com/education/Harland-and-Wolffs-

    • tonyab lm profile image

      tonyab lm 10 years ago

      Hi! What a great site for kids - very helpful. I added this lens to my lensroll on KidsRKool lens. 5 stars. :-)

    • profile image

      MCStylin 10 years ago

      Great lens here with quality info and a very well done presentation! 5 stars!

      Feel free to stop by my Squidoo:

      Make Money Online with The Monetizer

    • profile image

      CygnetGames 10 years ago

      Completely brilliant! I am making computer games myself in java, and I've been thinking for a long time that games would be a perfect way to teach beginners how to program, and the difference between 'programming' and 'coding'.

      Very well done.

    • KSamuel-Stevens profile image

      KSamuel-Stevens 10 years ago

      Nice lens. This is a good way to get children to understand the inner workings of computers better.

    • profile image

      liluluna 10 years ago

      Great lens - 5 stars.

      See my lense about Madden 2008

    • profile image

      Xevios 10 years ago

      Awesome lens man!

    • profile image

      allysa 10 years ago

      this is really a cool lens. I remember, this is one of our projects when I was in college, to program a computer games.

    • Pierce This 2 profile image

      Pierce This 2 10 years ago

      Nice Lens, thanks. How to measure a belly button ring

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      Awesome tips on game making.

    • profile image

      coollikeme 10 years ago

      Cool Lens

    • jupiter justice profile image

      Asher Socrates 10 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      great site keep up the good work! This is gonna help my son a lot. Thanks

    • profile image

      Andrew_Braithwaite 10 years ago

      Great lens! I want to learn how to make games!!

      Visit Rate Your Mum

    • profile image

      SARASOTASWEETIE 10 years ago

      Great lens. 5 stars!

    • profile image

      International-Investor 10 years ago

      Great Lense. 5 star. Make Money in Emerging Markets!

    • profile image

      Catalogbrasfinds 10 years ago

      My son is excited to try making his own game!

    • digitalscrap profile image

      digitalscrap 10 years ago

      Great resource for the future techies!! Thanks for putting it together!!Instant Download Custom Designed Auction Templates Boost Your eBay Sales

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      Nice lens. 5 stars from Baby Games

    • profile image

      leb123z 10 years ago

      This lens encourages creativity in children - a very important part of development! And if you know how to make your own computer games, eventually this can make you into a future business entrepreneur! For more business ideas check out

      http://www.squidoo.com/plug-in-profit-site

      Liane Bate

    • profile image

      datingtips93 10 years ago

      Nice lens. Definite 5 stars.

    • ChouDoufu profile image

      ChouDoufu 10 years ago

      What a neat idea. Sorry about taking so long to add it to the Dads of Squidoo group.

    • profile image

      serendipityrose 10 years ago

      Great lens! I have 3 teen boys who want to make games.

    • neiimii profile image

      neiimii 10 years ago

      Great Lens! I've just made a lens at Nintendo Interactive Gaming Please check it out and don't forget to rate it! - Neiimii

    • profile image

      anonymous 10 years ago

      I couldn't agree with you more, I rated you 5 stars!

    • profile image

      saksa 10 years ago

      Hello!

      Just come to you from Aúsense. I am there as agloco income. Greit site hear from you. I voted 5.

      Success.

    • Susan1 LM profile image

      Susan1 LM 10 years ago

      Very creative and great lens for kids! 5 stars

    • profile image

      Kowgirl 10 years ago

      Great lens. I give you a thumbs up! And a vote.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 10 years ago

      My step-son loves his games. Who better than kids to help design them? Nice lens!

    • profile image

      cchung 10 years ago

      Video Card

      Great lens! I have learned a lot from it. I have a similar lens that talks about how to pick a video card for game. Check it out Video Cardy and rate is please.

    • CrystalDBooth profile image

      Crystal Booth 10 years ago from Stroud, OK

      What a fun and creative idea for kids! Thanks for a wonderful lens - 5 stars!

      Welcome to the Squidoo Ratings Swap ~ Crystal

    • profile image

      DeWayne-FilmFreak 10 years ago

      Kids will love this lens! 5 stars!

      DeWayne(FilmFreak)

      MovieDownloadMatrix.com

      Horror Movie Critic with Fangs!

    • JayShaffstall LM profile image
      Author

      JayShaffstall LM 10 years ago

      Thanks for the suggestion about a lens with links to games kids have actually programmed. Great idea!

    • profile image

      the777group lm 10 years ago

      Jay, what a great lens! You're right, my kids love PLAYING computer games but creating them is another thing altogether.

      May I suggest a second lens with some info or links to some computer games (or simulations) that other kids have done? Seeing the programming in action could be a winner.

      ADG