One of the best creation tools available for aspiring game developers

Learning rating

Community rating

Based on 6 reviews

Privacy rating

Expert evaluation by Common Sense



Subjects & Topics


Price: Free, Paid
Platforms: Web

Pros: Offers an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface for novices; powerful scripting for pros.

Cons: Free version doesn't allow the creation of any executables; learning curve for novices is pretty steep.

Bottom Line: Great choice for a full unit or class on game design; fuels students game-making dreams.

GameMaker is a great choice for an in-depth unit or entire course on game design. Other game-making lessons from or Scratch can see faster results on the basics, but after a few hours, teachers and students who are looking for a game-making environment with substance will want more. Use the lessons to get kids started. Then, have them think about their favorite video games and what kinds of objects and mechanics they involve. Break the games down into components, and discuss how each of those components needs to be controlled separately by the background code. Then start with GameMaker's tutorials and demo projects, teaching students how the game development environment is set up. Advanced students can then go on to design their own games for the class, or even for sale in the Marketplace.

GameMaker is one of the most popular game-creation tools, meaning it comes with active support forums and numerous opportunities to participate in a learning community that extends beyond the classroom. Its community is active and extensive, partly due to being available on the digital distribution site Steam. Through Steam, student designers have an easy way to share their games and access other people's games, as well as an alternative support community to participate in.

GameMaker is the real deal: Its drag-and-drop programming environment allows new game designers to jump right in and create 2D games. With it, they can create professional-level games, but it's still accessible to amateurs and those on a budget. When students want access to more flexible or nuanced behavior for game objects, they can switch over to the built-in GML language, which is based on C. The included image, room, sprite, object, and tileset editors give complete control over the game, all within the workspace. 

GameMaker's user interface for creation is consistent and clear. Making a game is a straightforward process of assembling all the game pieces into a common library, shown through an expandable hierarchy tree, and then setting up various "objects" using those art or sound pieces. This is followed by adding different behaviors to the objects (such as what to do when a player pushes the left arrow key or when one object collides with another), creating a new "room," and placing the objects in the room. Games can be run/played at any point, making for instant feedback on what has already been created.

Depending on the purchased license, students can create games for use in desktop, mobile, console, or web environments, and even sell them in the Marketplace. A huge community is available for getting help and finding ideas. The trial version of GameMaker has limited resources and, with it, you can't create executables. But it gives sufficient functionality to help you figure out if this game development environment is what you need.

Editor's Note: This review was of GameMaker Studio 2, and may not be fully representative of the current version of GameMaker.

Learning how to assemble a basic game in GameMaker is easy when you follow the included step-by-step tutorials, and there are plenty of resources for teachers as well. That said, it's probably best to have some foundational knowledge first. Aspiring game designers can supplement the tutorials by watching a good pool of amazingly well-done third-party YouTube videos, and get help in the active community forums. These resources also introduce students to basic concepts of game design that will work even outside GameMaker. In general, GameMaker orients students to the programming, design, and development environment, but it's only a tool; knowing how to design an in-depth game would generally be learned separately. Already being familiar with game development terminology would also be helpful.

Once students have a game idea, though, GameMaker is an open-ended tool for making it happen, whether they're going for a simple move-and-shoot game, or one with more sophisticated graphics and gameplay, or even a physics engine. It has enough capability to handle students' first games all the way up to professional-level, sellable games. Also, creating a game with the drag-and-drop interface allows students to take a look at the code behind the blocks and learn more about how the programming works.

Learning Rating

Overall Rating

Has a consistent quality-control and organization scheme for the creation, placement, and manipulation of game objects and their behaviors that makes getting into a good workflow easy.


Provides new users with a set of optional built-in tutorials and -- even better -- a robust online community that offers easy-to-follow learning videos. Students gain skills with real-world applicability.


There's a user manual, a knowledge base, a large online community for a game-making tool, and step-by-step tutorial videos. There are also multilingual options, but no obvious accessibility features.

Community Rating

Great for beginner programmers who are interested in game creation

I like that this program is very personalized to edit your game however you want. It has a lot of required information when you first start out with this program which can be tedious, especially taking up a lot of class time. Overall, I think it's a great program for students who are interested in this subject.

Continue reading

Privacy Rating

Data Safety How safe is this product?

  • Unclear whether this product supports interactions between trusted users.
  • Personal information can be displayed publicly.
  • User-created content is not filtered for personal information before being made publicly visible.

Data Rights What rights do I have to the data?

  • Users can create or upload content.
  • Processes to access or review user data are available.
  • Processes to modify data are available for authorized users.

Ads & Tracking Are there advertisements or tracking?

  • Personal information is shared for third-party marketing.
  • Traditional or contextual advertisements are displayed.
  • Personalised advertising is displayed.

Continue reading about this tool's privacy practices, including data collection, sharing, and security.

See complete evaluation

Learn more about our privacy ratings