Parents' Guide to

Gamestar Mechanic

By Christopher Healy, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Grand adventure teaches you to design your own games.

Game Mac , Windows 2010
Gamestar Mechanic Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

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

Community Reviews

age 10+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 7+

Real 21st Century Skills

Gamestar Mechanic is a study in the concepts behind the basic elements of a game, and how the balance of fun and challenge in games creates flow. It is also concerned with the iteration feedback loop and how games are a complex system designed around creating a satisfying user experience. Game design is a great jumping off point for introducing STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) learning through the lens of systems-thinking and user-centered design. Working with these complex concepts requires creativity and critical thinking in generous amounts. Basically, students have to figure out how a user is going to interact with a system that hasn't been invented yet. Further, the iterative feedback loop requires collaboration. Gamestar not only provides an excellent and accessible tool for this experience but also includes relevant and comprehensive scaffolding in the form of lessons and activities.

This title has:

Easy to play/use
age 18+

Overly Complicated

I registered and played with Gamestar Mechanic. I can't imagine a 10 year old being able to use it and come away with any educational value. There's no pop-up bubbles over the tools that help you build a game and I'm not about to sit down with my child for hours and read a manual like a textbook. Even if I wanted to, I didn't quickly locate a manual or easy help menu when I hit a roadblock. If by chance your kid does have the patience and ability to figure this out, he's destined for engineering school--and top of the class. Maybe I did't get far enough into the game design but the avatars were boring and basic and had no relation to the personal interests and criteria I selected at the start. The interface of the site is overly crowded and the artwork upon entry seems to have no relation to the game your designing. Gamestar mechanic seems like a great concept but it must be designed by Engineers.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4 ):
Kids say (3 ):

Gamestar Mechanic is a stunningly in-depth, and endlessly interesting, foray into the world of game design. But it's all played out like a sci-fi adventure game in and of itself. The concept is brilliant, and playing through it is undeniably entertaining. The collecting aspect, in which you play games in order to earn new visual elements to place in your own games, is a great touch that should keep kids coming back for more (if the sheer fun of the whole thing didn't do that already). Sure, the games you create won't be next-gen 3-D epics, but when you see that something you've designed yourself can be enjoyable or challenging, it creates a great feeling of accomplishment. The word "achievement" gets thrown around a lot in the video game world, but here, the work you do really feels like it earns that title.

Game Details

  • Platforms: Mac , Windows
  • Subjects: Science : motion, physics, Math : patterns, sequences
  • Skills: Tech Skills : digital creation, using and applying technology, Creativity : innovation, making new creations, producing new content, Thinking & Reasoning : logic, strategy, thinking critically
  • Pricing structure: Paid, Free (Basic is free, $2 per student, consumer version is $19.95.)
  • Available online?: Available online
  • Publisher: Institute of Play and E-Line Media
  • Release date: September 10, 2010
  • Genre: Edutainment
  • Topics: STEM
  • ESRB rating: NR
  • Last updated: November 6, 2017

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