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Best Tools to Make Games

Playing games is a surefire way to engage students, but making games can be just as absorbing. Game design and development builds art, math, and coding skills, and offers students an outlet to show what they know. These game-making apps, games, and websites are great examples of this, balancing the fun of play with the challenge of coding and design. With these tools, students will embark on creative, energizing experiences that'll get them thinking in new, exciting ways. On this list, we've curated options for entry-level designers that ease kids into building stuff that's a blast to play. We've also made sure to include tools that help students create games that feel authentic and that help students obtain skills they can use when they level up to more pro-grade software. 

TinyTap - Kids' Learning Games

Book-and-game builder empowers creativity, boasts vast content library

Bottom Line: With some patience and planning, this game maker can be a classroom game changer.

Grades: Pre-K–5
Price:
Free to try

Bloxels EDU

Game-making app focuses on pixel art and level design

Bottom Line: If it works, the app is a powerful non-coding way to get students into game design, though the physical cubes are more of a gimmick than anything else.

Grades: 1–7
Price:
Free to try, Paid

Unruly Splats

Game-making platform fuses coding and physical play

Bottom Line: This platform could appear gimmicky at first, but in practice it blends SEL, movement, collaboration, and STEM learning in clever, compelling ways.

Grades: 1–8
Price:
Paid

The Infinite Arcade by Tinybop

Simple game-design app has endless creative potential

Bottom Line: Letting students design, play, improve, and share their own games opens up opportunities for learning potential in many subject areas.

Grades: 2–6
Price:
Paid

Scratch

Creative sandbox opens the door to coding in any subject area

Bottom Line: Scratch draws students of all types into coding and lays a foundation for future learning.

Grades: 2–12
Price:
Free

Gamestar Mechanic

Engaging manga-themed quest to become a game designer

Bottom Line: Game design quests have everything students want but perhaps not everything teachers need.

Grades: 3–8
Price:
Free to try

Minecraft

Spiraling sandbox of adventure and creation gets kids to dig deep

Bottom Line: An irresistible and seemingly limitless incubator for 21st-century skills that, with a little guidance, can chart new courses for learning.

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Paid

Roblox

Popular game development platform has classroom potential, pitfalls

Bottom Line: Creating games for an authentic audience encourages coding and design skills, but real risks require extra caution.

Grades: 3–12
Price:
Free, Paid

Codesters

Differentiated text-based coding makes for truly authentic experiences

Bottom Line: The well-designed Python lessons and user interface make this a great choice for serious coding instruction.

Grades: 5–8
Price:
Free to try

Gamefroot

Fun and challenging platform for aspiring game designers

Bottom Line: A great launchpad for students who love games and code.

Grades: 4–12
Price:
Free

LittleBigPlanet 2

Accessible yet deep game creator will dazzle and challenge

Bottom Line: A deeply charming experience for teachers and students interested in pushing boundaries, making things, and participating in a healthy community focused on boundless creativity.

Grades: 4–12
Price:
Paid

Ready Maker

Fun and easy game design yields surprisingly complex creations

Bottom Line: With teacher support, a creative introduction to coding and game design.

Grades: 4–12
Price:
Free, Paid

Sound Shapes

Jazzy music game lets kids design levels and create music

Bottom Line: A visually stunning music game that inspires creativity by providing simple but powerful tools to build your own music games to share with others.

Grades: 4–12
Price:
Paid

Swift Playgrounds

Brilliantly designed iOS coding app great for newbies or pros

Bottom Line: If you have iPads or Macs, this is an inspired choice for learning how to create and tweak code.

Grades: 4–12
Price:
Free

Wick Editor

Design interactive games and animations with creative online platform

Bottom Line: A great starting place for aspiring creators to design and share engaging content.

Grades: 4–12
Price:
Free

LearnToMod

Modify Minecraft with this fun, applied use of coding

Bottom Line: For students who already know and love Minecraft, this is a valuable way to hook students into coding.

Grades: 5–12
Price:
Paid

Stencyl

Code-free game development tool helps kids program and publish

Bottom Line: It ups the sophistication of building block coding by connecting student work to major publishing platforms.

Grades: 5–12
Price:
Free, Paid

Zulama

Teach a vast number of CS concepts with quality, depth, and choice

Bottom Line: Zulama will help any middle or high school implement a comprehensive computer science program.

Grades: 5–12
Price:
Free to try, Paid

CodeHS

Computer science curriculum offers great feedback, fun challenges

Bottom Line: Effective tools and clear lessons teach real programming, but you'll have to spend some cash to help kids master it.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free to try, Paid

Construct 3

Ideal 2D game builder supports students to create, innovate

Bottom Line: Limitless game options, reasonable cost, and extensive support make this programming environment perfect for an educational setting.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free to try

micro:bit

Code games or fun displays with mini piece of hardware

Bottom Line: This versatile tool for learning how to program with blocks or text is a nice fit for STEM classes and clubs.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free, Paid

Textadventures.co.uk

Play or design text adventures, but creation can get technical

Bottom Line: Text adventures can be a blast to play and make, but the Quest game-making tool, while offering some decent support, can be tough to use effectively without coding experience.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

Unity Learn

Complete game creation curriculum gives students real-world experience

Bottom Line: It's a slick, fun, and effective way to get students building games right away, with plenty of room for depth.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Free

Codecademy

Excellent text-based coding site a great way to learn real-world skills

Bottom Line: For both introductory and higher skill levels, it teaches the breadth and depth of skills for programming careers.

Grades: 7–12
Price:
Free to try

GameMaker

One of the best creation tools available for aspiring game developers

Bottom Line: Provides teachers with the best choice for a full unit or class on game design, and gives students a tool to help them realize their game-making dreams.

Grades: 7–12
Price:
Free, Paid

GameSalad

Great interface, flexible publishing options make game-making a snap

Bottom Line: This engaging platform will empower budding game designers, but the price tag could be a deal-breaker for tight school budgets.

Grades: 6–12
Price:
Paid

Portal 2 Puzzle Maker

Mind-bending level editor for beloved physics game

Bottom Line: For STEAM educators with the right tech and know-how, it'd be puzzling not to use this tool.

Grades: 7–12
Price:
Paid

Codea

Well-thought-out coding platform for real game programming

Bottom Line: Codea is a professional tool that has enough help features that kids can learn programming hands-on.

Grades: 8–12
Price:
Paid

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