Teacher Review for Gamestar Mechanic

A great program with real world lessons, oh, and it’s fun too

R G.
Technology coordinator
Swanton Schools
Swanton, VT
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My Grades 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
My Rating
Learning Scores
My Students Liked It No
My Students Learned No
I Would Recommend It Yes
Setup Time 5-15 minutes
Great for Creation
Small group
Student-driven work
Whole class
Great with General
How I Use It
"I have used this with a full class of students in an enrichment period. The curriculum worked very well. In a typical elementary classroom, I would use it in conjunction with writing pieces. The students could use the game as the basis for writing a story as a game shares many of the aspects that a well-written story has. It has worked well with large groups, but I am also using it with one student who wanted to create a game as his “Passion Project” that he was able to choose. I would ask students: • To consider how they might apply systems thinking to real world problems? • Consider what they learned about problems solving from creating games? • To look at tasks they already do and see if they share some of the qualities of a game?"
My Take
I simply can’t say enough about this website. At it’s most basic level this site allows kids to create video games, real working video games! Many sites and programs make this claim but fall short in the execution. With Gamestar Mechanic students will be creating games within a few lessons, but that is just the beginning. Students gain an in-depth knowledge of what makes a good game, the 5 elements of game design, and systems thinking. They are introduced to a new concept by playing a game, and then they are allowed to apply that knowledge to the game in a free form environment. The level of engagement from students is very high from the beginning. While this all sounds great for getting kids involved, they are learning important concepts along the way. Each step in the game design process (and chapter in the game) comes with a fully developed lesson plan and handouts, each one aligned with current learning standards. They even provide different length curriculum for teachers to make it even easier to integrate. They’ve thought of everything possible to make it easy for teachers to jump in with both feet! It’s not a magic bullet and the teachers need to be on their feet to keep up enthusiasm as the students get past the initial wow factor, but if the teacher is engaged and willing, this is a great program with real world lessons, oh, and it’s fun too! The only downside is that there is shooting involved in many of the games. Though as the platform develops, the developers have included other options like freezing and non-humanoid avatars to help with this.