Kids love playing computer games, so learning how to make your own games and apps is the next best thing! Game design teaches the basics of programming and logical thinking. Kids will have a great sense of accomplishment when they complete a game level they designed all by themselves, and sharing games with friends, adds to the excitement. Programming is a skill that can help with problem solving and computational thinking skills at any age, and there’s no harm in starting young and understanding how games work. We’ve compiled a list of 15 top programs to make your own game, that kids can use to learn to code and having fun doing it.
With a drag and drop interface, GameSalad bolsters its ability to create mobile games quickly and easily. GameSalad focuses on the main programming logic, instead of a programming language. It has an extensive curriculum that teaches the foundations of programming and game design through creating working games. GameSalad allows you to make your own game and then export it straight to Google Play, Apple App Store, a web application, Windows Store, and/or the Amazon App Store.
Bloxels has an interesting take on game creation in that kids literally build their levels, characters and power-ups with little blocks. The entire game creation process is building with little plastic blocks. Once the level is built, kids can use the Bloxels app to add sprites to the background to create a beautiful, working game. Bloxels acts only as a platformer, so there is no programming at all and is completely focused on game design. But, it can be a great way for young kids to get to grips on how games are put together.
Inspired by Scratch’s drag-and-drop interface, Stencyl is a powerful game creation kit that also offers a computer science curriculum. Kids can build worlds with Stencyl’s built in scene designer and actor editor. Any game created can be uploaded to multiple platforms, and have ad support and in-app purchases; so kids could even make real money from their own game!
Designed for iPhones and iPads, Coda Game is a make your own game app on the iOS app store. With a number of pre-made gameplay mechanics, Coda Game allows for children to focus on design rather than programming. When there is any programming, Coda uses an interesting image interface instead of text to program. Coda has a two player game mode that allows for kids to create cool games and challenge their friends to beat their creations.
With CoSpaces, children can actually help create the future of video games. Virtual reality games are rising in popularity, and with drag-and-drop code, CoSpaces makes it easier than ever. CoSpaces has a few exercises to improve your skills, and many of them are amazing. In one of the exercises, you build a model of a glucose molecule and it gives you the ability to view the make-up of the molecule up close and in 3D.
Hopscotch is a make your own game app for iPhone and iPad that brings drag-and-drop programming to mobile devices. Starting with easy-to-follow tutorials, children can immediately apply what they’ve learned to create art and games. For more difficult topics, Hopscotch has their own YouTube channel that goes in depth about complex questions and ideas. Hopscotch allows users to play and share their creations through the app or online, allowing anyone to play.
GameMaker is probably one of the most popular coding programs around. GameMaker has the ability to run drag-and-drop code and written code at the same time, allowing you to customize exactly what you want in your game. Kids can make games in minutes with an easy and intuitive interface, without jumping into the deep end of coding.
Kodu Game Lab is a make your own game program that uses a simple visual programming language to create full-featured games. It teaches children the basics of programming, problem solving and storytelling by starting with simple ideas, and moving on from there. Kodu has a large community base that shares their creations with the rest of the world. On top of all that, Kodu allows you to export games to PC and Xbox Marketplace.
Beta is a platform game creator that teaches through playing a game. The game centers around manipulating the world’s objects and properties using basic code, and then extending to more difficult tasks. Beta uses a simple programming language called CodePOP and it’s designed for kids with or without programming experience. Beta allows for anyone to create, share and play games made by other people.
Scratch is a programming language that uses a very simple drag-and-drop interface that allows you to make your own game, tell a story or create an animation with ease. Scratch has a huge online community, and makes sharing creations as easy as clicking a button. Scratch’s main objective is to get everyone, young and old, sharing and creating interesting games, ideas and works of art.
Self-paced learning and a quest system to teach game design is Gamestar Mechanic’s main objective. As more and more quests are completed, the more features are unlocked to make your own game. Gamestar comes with pre-made sprites and an easy to use level designer so kids can get straight into the action without needing any programming knowledge. Gamestar Mechanic has a safe online environment that allows anyone to play, create and share creations.
Playing games online has become incredibly common. Sploder changes it up by having you create games online. With a large selection of game templates, game makers can create anything from a platformer to a physics based game. Anyone can create original minigames and customize the look of their game with Sploder’s free graphics editor. With Sploder being entirely online, it makes sharing and playing other people’s games easy and fun.
Minecraft Edu is an incredible way to get your children into programming, learning or even just as an outlet for their creativity. A modern day version of Lego, everyone has the ability to create entire worlds within the game. Minecraft Edu has over a hundred lessons, ranging from basic economics to learning the alphabet. And the best part is, more and more lessons are being added by teachers and parents every day.
Designed for Android devices, AppInventor is another kind of coding app. AppInventor has quizzes, videos and more to help kids learn the basics of programming and good app design. Then, once they’re comfortable, AppInventor has Java lessons to help kids learn how to program a Google Play Store app without much help.
Samantha Kotey is the editor for AvatarGeneration and has a background in educational technology and virtual worlds. A mom of two, she is passionate about all things related to toys and technology.