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GameMaker User Guide

This guide answers frequently asked questions about GameMaker including: how to get started using it, where to get help learning and working with GameMaker, and how video games made with GameMaker can be used for science and engineering fairs as well as other educational purposes.

What is GameMaker?

GameMaker is an easy-to-use programming environment that anyone, middle school-aged and older, can use to make their own video games. A basic version can be downloaded free of charge from its publisher, YoYo Games, and is available for both Windows and Mac operating systems. The basic version can be upgraded to a paid professional version with more features.

How do I learn to use GameMaker?

Here are the first steps to getting started with GameMaker:

  1. Download the free version of GameMaker Studio from the YoYo Games website.
  2. Follow the onscreen instructions to install and open GameMaker.
  3. To learn more about using GameMaker, see the official YoYo Games tutorials page. We recommend starting with the "Your First Game" tutorial.
  4. There are also other third-party sites available with GameMaker tutorials, like http://gamemakertutorials.com/. You can do a web search for "gamemaker tutorial" to find more, but make sure the tutorials are up-to-date and written for the latest version of GameMaker.
  5. Follow some tutorials to get familiar with the software, then start playing with GameMaker to create whatever games you dream up!

Where can I get GameMaker audio, graphics, or other features to add to my video games?

One of the advantages to GameMaker is that you can create your own audio and graphics files to use in the game.

You can use audio and image programs to make your own, search for free versions available on the Internet, or download versions made by other GameMaker users from http://sandbox.yoyogames.com/resources/.

Help! I am stuck programming and do not know what to do next.

If you want to do something specific in GameMaker and get stuck, you can turn to several places for help:

Can I use GameMaker to make something to enter in my local fair or engineering fair?

Yes! A video game you create yourself is usually a fine entry in the computer science division of your local science fair or engineering fair, as long as you have followed the Engineering Design Process. The Tips and Resources for Making Video and Computer Games page offers more information about how a video game can be part of a science or engineering project.

I am interested in video game-making. Where can I learn more?

There are many books, tools, and websites about video game-making. Several are reviewed and featured throughout the Science Buddies website. Table 1 shows the list of resources on the Science Buddies website that deal with the fun and challenges of video game design.

Science Buddies Video Game-making Resource Description
Video & Computer Games Science Fair Project Ideas Free game-related project ideas for science fairs and engineering fairs.
Computer Science Fair Project Ideas Free programming-related project ideas for science fairs and engineering fairs.
Tips and Resources for Making Video and Computer Games Tips on
  • How to use video games in science and engineering fair projects
  • Where to learn more about video game design
Kid-Friendly Programming Languages A review of kid-friendly programming languages for making video games, animations, and simulations
Resources for STEM Education Through Video Game and Animation Creation A guide for educators and parents about the educational aspects of video game-making and digital animation creation
Programming language help pages: Individual help pages for getting started with different programming languages used in various Science Buddies Project Ideas.
Table 1. List of Science Buddies website resources on designing and making video games and digital animations