Parents' Guide to

Game Builder Garage

By Jeff Haynes, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Get tools to make your own games in stellar design package.

Game Nintendo Switch 2021
Game Builder Garage Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this game.

Community Reviews

age 8+

Based on 6 parent reviews

age 7+

People must make games that's suitable for children.

I'm only going to say this. I would say that people and even children can make explicit games here, but I think that I would make games suitable for kids. However, I still have no ideas for one.

This title has:

Educational value
Easy to play/use
age 9+

Best for strong readers

As an instructional game designer, my main beef with this game is that it's packaged like it's for very little kids, but the vocabulary and concepts are for older and stronger readers. Having to read all the silly "jokes" to my kiddo became tedious and when she went off on her own she quickly figured out that she can just keep pushing buttons until she "wins" without learning anything about programming in some cases.

This title has:

Educational value

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (6 ):
Kids say (10 ):

If you ever wondered what it would be like to be a game designer, but you didn't know how to start, this programming suite can help make your wildest dreams or ideas come true. Game Builder Garage doesn't require any experience with typing a single line of code or debugging a program. Instead, it takes many of the complex programming functions and commands that you would spend months or years learning about in a computer science class, and simplifies them into an easy to grasp visual object system. It further gives these objects personalities, calling them Nodons, while allowing them to explain their function to players as they create the seven sample games that come with Garage. It's a clever process that helps players learn to do the programming by doing it themselves, and these skills are reinforced simply and easily with small, digestible chapters that are well designed, along with basic quizzes and problem solving tests to make sure that you remember what you've been shown. What's more, not only do you have these sample games that you can play through when you're done, you're then given the freedom and space to create your own titles based off your imagination and the vast number of assets provided. That's where the game truly comes alive, because whether you're trying to program a pinball table, building a simple soccer match, or anything else, the sky's the limit based on your imagination. What's also very cool is that you'll have the option to export your creation via code so your friends can check out what you've made, or possibly collaborate with you on building a game. In a classroom setting, this would be a great way to assign and collaborate with other students on a project for class.

While it's great that you can share or team up with others to work on titles, this highlights one of Game Builder Garage's biggest flaws, which is its limited share functionality. To share your creations, you have to get the code from another player sent to you to access that game. There's no community of published works that's set up for other gamers to download titles from, which is a shame, especially for budding programmers. Unlike Super Mario Maker 2, which fostered a community around the many levels uploaded to the game servers, Garage builders will have to hope a website will be created where they can submit their game codes for players to check out. Similar to this, there's no downloadable packs or extra content available for the game, so if you were hoping to see Nintendo branded characters or new Nodons and items to expand your created titles, you're out of luck. These are minor flaws, though, and while the games that you'll create are basic compared to the massive top charting titles that are released by major publishers, overall, this is a well-designed introduction to programming. It pulls back the curtain on how titles are made, which makes Game Builder Garage a perfect way to engage and interact with the next generation of designers.

Game Details

  • Platform: Nintendo Switch
  • Subjects: Language & Reading : following directions, reading comprehension, Math : addition, arithmetic, counting, functions, measurement, numbers, sequences, Science : measurement, motion, Hobbies : building
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning : applying information, collecting data, deduction, defining problems, hypothesis-testing, logic, problem solving, solving puzzles, thinking critically, Creativity : brainstorming, combining knowledge, developing novel solutions, imagination, innovation, making new creations, producing new content, Self-Direction : achieving goals, effort, goal-setting, identifying strengths and weaknesses, initiative, personal growth, set objectives, work to achieve goals, Collaboration : cooperation, group projects, teamwork, Tech Skills : coding, digital creation, using and applying technology
  • Pricing structure: Paid
  • Available online?: Available online
  • Publisher: Nintendo
  • Release date: June 11, 2021
  • Genre: Educational
  • Topics: STEM , Robots
  • ESRB rating: E for No Descriptions
  • Award: Common Sense Selection
  • Last updated: June 10, 2021

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