Gamestar Mechanic Teacher Blog

All posts tagged “games by kids”

Youth Game Designers at the White House Science Fair


Posted Feb. 08, 2012

CategoryChallenges and Contests, Events, Games by Kids



I think it was when we walked past the battery of TV cameras and photographers in the East Room that it hit me: these kids are being recognized at the White House… by the President… for designing video games!

As the leader of the Gamestar Mechanic team here at E-Line Media and coordinator of the National STEM Video Game Challenge Youth Prize, I had the pleasure of accompanying two of our 2010 winners as they participated in the White House Science Fair on February 7th.

Tuesday’s event was the second Science Fair to take place at the White House during President Obama’s administration and represents his commitment to recognizing outstanding student achievement. As the President put it in his remarks to the students

Now, it is fitting that this year’s fair is happening just two days after the Super Bowl… I’m looking forward to having the Giants here at the White House so we can celebrate their achievements.  But what I’ve also said — I’ve said this many times — is if we are recognizing athletic achievement, then we should also be recognizing academic achievement and science achievement.  If we invite the team that wins the Super Bowl to the White House, then we need to invite some science fair winners to the White House as well.

Over 100 youth from a variety of STEM-oriented competitions attended the event, and let me tell you: these are some impressive kids. From students designing improved football helmets to help prevent traumatic brain injuries to the youngster who invented a waste-free sugar packet that dissolves in water, the ingenuity displayed by these talented young people was something amazing.

Representing the STEM Challenge were Shireen Zaineb, now in 8th Grade, from Milwaukee, WI. Shireen designed her winning game using Gamestar Mechanic as part of her work in technology class at the Milwaukee Montessori School with teacher Sherri Dodd — one of our first Gamestar Mechanic educators!

Joining Shireen was Jasper Hugunin, also in 8th Grade, from Islander Middle School in Mercer Island, WA. Jasper coded his own game from scratch using Javascript. Jasper’s game is designed to teach the player introductory computer science concepts like writing code, logical reasoning and debugging as they lead a robot through a series of mazes.

Along with a select group of students attending the event, Jasper had the opportunity to exhibit his game for the other kids and dignitaries present. Hearing Jasper describe the thought process that went into designing his game — to the likes of astronauts, Senior Department of Education officials and even Bill Nye the Science Guy — really reinforced for me all of the reasons that we think game design is such a great activity for young people.

When we launched the STEM Challenge in 2010, we knew that designing a digital game has tremendous learning benefits. Two years later, through the support of our sponsors and outreach partners, it’s truly incredible for me to see the competition grow and the work of our students be recognized at the highest levels.

I managed to snag a few photos of the event, which you can see in this slide show. You can also see the full video of President Obama’s remarks here.

The 2012 edition of the STEM Challenge the Challenge is accepting entries from middle, high school and collegestudents, as well as educators, through March 12, 2012 at

Congratulations to Shireen, Jasper and all the amazing kids who participated in the White House Science Fair!

Kid Designers Outside of Gamestar


Posted Nov. 08, 2011

CategoryGames by Kids


My previous post highlighted two super awesome games made by kids in Gamestar Mechanic.  It’s fairly simple to design games in Gamestar; there is no programming required, and you are prepared by play and fix missions in the Quest to make games that are balanced and fun.  That being said, not every type of game can be created in Gamestar and after creating a good number of games, some kids may be inspired to program their own.  Making a game from scratch is a process.  It involves solid game design, art creation, programming and a lot of planning.  Here are a few impressive examples of games made by kids from scratch.


Blatch is a matching game for the iPad ($0.99) created by GRL5, a 15-year-old.  This game is simple and deceivingly challenging.  The goal is to clear all blocks from the screen by matching blocks of the same color from the bottom row of two columns.  When a pair is matched, they will disappear from the screen, and the blocks above them will fall down into the bottom row.  There are multiple possibilities for matching the blocks, but only one matching order will clear all blocks from the screen.  You can learn more about Blatch and the designer here.

I played this game on easy mode and still barely managed to pass one level.  Usually, that would be a turn off for me, but the mechanics of this game are simple and fun, so I really wanted to keep trying.  This game is also beautiful aesthetically — there are no scoreboards, timers, or other meta data to distract you from the brightly colored blocks.  GRL5 did a great job!

Bubble BallBubble Ball

Bubble Ball is a physics puzzle game where you design a course to get the ball to the goal.  Robert Nay, a 14-year-old* from Utah created this game for the iPhone which, as of today, has gotten over 9.1 million downloads.  Wow!  Robert coded this game with Corona SDK, an environment that lets developers create games for Android and iOS platforms.  Robert designed the game’s levels with his mom, Kari.  More info here.

This game is so basic that there is no sound and graphics are truly bare bones, but the gameplay is fantastic. Levels start out easy and slowly increase in difficulty, and I feel like a total genius every time I beat one!  Check out Robert’s studio Nay Games.

Sissy's Magical Ponycorn AdventureSissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure

This heartwarming game was created by Cassie (5-years-old!) and her dad.  Sissy’s Magical Ponycorn Adventure is a short point-and-click adventure game playable for free online.  Cassie’s dad did the programming while Cassie designed the game, voiced the characters, and created all the art.  When the game was published online, it created a huge amount of buzz on game blogs and Twitter and was a finalist at this year’s IndieCade. Find out about the process of making Ponycorn here and read even more here.

The game is short, sweet, and HILARIOUS.  Just goes to show that brilliant games can come from kids who are too small to even write a line of code.  I also learned that lemons are evil =)

Know of other games designed by kids? Let me know!