Case Study

William Annin Middle School


I am a HUGE fan of GameMaker. I think it is a phenomenal tool for teaching Game Design and Development. I have explored numerous tools and GameMaker is by far the best at teaching all elements of design while focusing on authentic programming concepts.

Case Study

Who are you, what is your role and what class(es) do you teach

Steven Isaccs, Teacher of 8th grade Video Game Design and Development.

What versions of GameMaker do you use?

Currently, GameMaker Studio. I've been teaching with GameMaker since version 4 :)

What made you choose GameMaker?

GameMaker provides a wonderful opportunity for students to create games in an easy to understand, concrete manner while still maintaining an authentic introduction to computer programming concepts. Students are truly programming every aspect of their game whether they use the Drag and Drop approach or coding with GML.

How many students do you teach at a time?

I teach 3 sections of the 8th grade elective. Each class has approximately 20 students, so I teach this course to 60 students per semester.

How long are you classes?

40 minutes

How long is your course? 5 weeks? 16 weeks?

20 weeks

Do the students work alone or in groups?

Both. There is a strong emphasis on design teams in terms of game development. I encourage students to find their niche whether it be graphic design, programming, sound engineering, etc.

What background/majors/emphasis do the students have?

It varies. Many students have no prior background, some have taken an introductory programming course or summer camp.

How are the students graded on their GameMaker projects?

I utilize a Quest-based learning management system for my course. Students complete and submit quests in an incremental manner. A number of the quests provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their understanding and ability to accomplish certain tasks / skills in gamemaker. They're final games are evaluated as their game in progress and their completed game based on a rubric that looks at the aesthetics of the game, the storyline / game information, playability (and re-playability), increasing level of challenge, programming concepts incorporated, etc. Students evaluate each other's games and provide feedback throughout the process.

How would you rate the students' interest in game development before and after the class?

Their interest level is high prior to and after the class. The class experience definitely opens them up to a greater understanding of what is involved and what they can accomplish in terms of game development.

Do students continue working outside of class time?

Absolutely! Sometimes I receive 'complaints' from parents that their child has 'too much homework' for my class. Incidentally, I do not assign homework. Any work completed at home is by choice and based on motivation.

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It is a phenomenal tool for teaching.
Steve Isaacs, Teacher, 8th Grade

School Contact Details

William Annin Middle School

70 Quincy Rd
Basking Ridge
NJ 07920

School Website