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Gamestar Mechanic: A Game about Games

Critical thinking, problem solving, and imagination important skills for kids today. Gamestar Mechanic, December’s game of the month, produced by E-Line Media, encourages players to use these these abilities to get through the game. At its core, Gamestar Mechanic is a game about games. In the first half, players learn how to play by being taught simple mechanics, such as how to move, how to identify objectives, and how to avoid enemies. The second half of the game is about designing games. Starting off with simple objectives and moving on to more complex ones, the player is introduced to the world of game design. The second half of the game shows that game design is not as scary as one may think. Instead of “lessons”, students play “quests” in which rewards are given that the player can use to build their own levels and games.

Gamestar Mechanic Designing a game

For more information about Gamestar Mechanic, including links to resources and content, visit our Gamestar Mechanic page!

Gameplay Quests

As the gameplay quests get more difficult, one must use critical thinking to solve the level. In some levels, the sides of the screen interact with each other, similar to Pac-Man. One can run through the side of the screen and come out the opposite side while avoiding enemies and collecting enough points for the door at the end of the level to open. When thinking outside of the box, the level becomes easy. Gamestar Mechanic’s first handful of quests are about how to play games. From the very simple, such as how to move one’s character, to the more complex, such as the best way to accomplish known objectives, the game gives quests for the player to accomplish in order to understand these concepts. The story is centered around a character named Addison who joins the league of game designers at Factory 7. Addison must first learn how to play games before designing them. In each level, the player is given specific instructions about what is to be accomplished, from making it to the end without losing all of your health to getting 30 points to unlock the door at the end of the level.

Playing a published game Designing a platform game    

Design Quests

After one learns enough about gameplay mechanics through playing the levels, the design quests start to pop up throughout the story. One is free to solve them in complicated ways, which may involve many passageways and other difficult objects, or in simple ways, such as getting to the door the quickest. Unlike the gameplay quests, the end goal of getting through the design quests is learning how to create a game using the design mechanic. If done successfully, one will be able to use all the mechanics encountered in the game to let their creativity flow and create a game that they are truly proud of. Through this creation process, the player learns about the general way that game design works. One can then have enough information to pursue game design education if one finds it interesting.

Educational Experience

Gamestar Mechanic was created as an educational tool to teach students about games and game design. On the Gamestar Mechanic site, teacher resources are numerous. The site hosts videos which talk about the game and the community built around it as well as an overview of how students benefit when they learn about game design, among other things. Not to mention the game was created in such a way as to make it extremely easy for a teacher to implement in the classroom. By dividing up all the quests into subsections, the lesson plan for the teacher can become streamlined and less stressful.

Sharing Your Creations

E-Line Media has created a community around their game within which designers can discuss design ideas, and even play each other’s games. In their “Game Alley”, one can browse the available games that other designers have published, play each others games, and can review the game of another. This adds a sense of accomplishment for the game designer who created a game that has a high review score even long after they designed the game. One of their creations, something which would not exist if it were not for them, was played and enjoyed by another to such an extent that a high review score was given.

Stay tuned all month for weekly blog posts about this great game. If you are a teacher try to think about how you would use Gamestar Mechanic as a tool to teach your students.  

Have you played Gamestar Mechanic? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!