Common Sense Review
Updated October 2014


Great interface, flexible publishing options make game-making a snap
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 5
  • An intro tutorial greets new users.
  • There's a selection of video tutorials on the website.
  • Here's what it looks like in the main interface; game objects are in the top right, behaviors below it, and attributes on the bottom left.
  • The same view after art was plopped in for the different game objects.
  • An online marketplace offers premade content and templates for purchase.
Great online support and stellar publishing options.
Access to some of the best features (including user-generated content) comes with a hefty price tag.
Bottom Line
Terrific interface and tutorials will empower budding game designers, but in a crowded field, cash-strapped educators should consider all options before committing.
Mark Chen
Common Sense Reviewer
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 3

A logical workspace and straightforward workflow make GameSalad a strong contender among the many game-making apps out there.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

Built-in tutorials ease designers in immediately, and kids can find many more tutorials on YouTube or through GameSalad’s forums for all sorts of games, from Flappy Bird clones to Mario and beyond.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 4

Full, active forums provide plenty of support, as does online documentation, a collection of tips and procedures in a virtual “cookbook,” and a Q&A help page.

About our ratings and privacy evaluation.
How Can Teachers Use It?

Teachers could use GameSalad in a workshop sort of classroom where students could follow along with the tutorials at their own pace. A student could be expected to create a simple 2D game in a week pretty easily and would have access to lots of support online if needed. A longer unit or series of units that covered game design could incorporate GameSalad among other tools to give students options for making all sorts of different games. This would also reinforce the idea that much of game design comes down to a certain way of thinking and planning that isn't tied to a specific tool.

Read more Read less
What's It Like?

GameSalad is an easy-to-use game-making app that scaffolds programming with a drag-and-drop interface similar to GameMaker Studio. A tabbed panel at the top left allows designers to drag various objects (like actors, art assets, or behaviors) onto the other panels that show a main stage and attributes for selected actors. Following the first tutorial, kids can easily make their first game in an hour.

GameSalad’s online community is active with lots of sharing of projects and video tutorials. Best of all, it exports games to almost any platform. All of this comes at a price: Unlike some other popular game-making apps, GameSalad is a subscription service, with the basic level costing $19 a month. The Pro version at $29 a month is the one that allows publishing to all the various platforms that it supports.

Read more Read less
Is It Good For Learning?

There’s a lot to like about GameSalad, and the initial experience is great. The intuitive design makes it easy for designers to plop in objects, assign behaviors, attach art to those objects, hit Play to see what happens, and then tweak it all in a continual process of iteration. This scaffolds design thinking well, makes digital making and game design more accessible, and builds the important skills of persistence, critical thinking, and reflection.

However, unless teachers need a tool that allows their students to publish to a plethora of platforms -- for example, to sell their games in an app store -- the cost might be hard to justify. There are 50% educational discounts available, but teachers and students without publishing aspiration might opt for Construct 2, GameMaker Studio, or Stencyl for free instead.

Read more Read less

See how teachers are using GameSalad

Teacher Reviews

Write Your Own Review

Lesson Plans