The computer game industry has exploded reaching sales of several billion dollars a year and, consequently, a majority of college students are familiar with the gaming environment. In fact, videogame development has been cited as one way to motivate students to explore the world of Computer Science. However, most videogames are extremely complex computer programs created by a team of developers including programmers and graphic artists and represent thousands of hours of work. Fortunately there are software tools available that provide a way for simple computer games to be created fairly easily using a building block approach. This paper discusses the successes and challenges of teaching a videogame design and development summer program using the software development tool, Game Maker, and from this experience examines how videogame development might be incorporated into a Computer Science curriculum. The first section provides an overview of the Game Maker program and outlines the material taught in the program. Observations of the most successful teaching methods and approaches utilized are also explored. We conclude with a discussion of where videogame design might best be suited in a Computer Science curriculum citing its attractiveness to non-Computer Science majors, its use as a way to introduce introductory programming concepts and as a way to help students learn to read code. While Game Maker is not sophisticated nor is it a substitute for teaching a standard programming language, it can be easily integrated into introductory Computer Science courses.
Journal of Computing Sciences in Colleges