Ask a Game Design Expert

I want to make an electronic game, but I do not have programming experience. What should I do?

There are many game development tools that are free or inexpensive. Some are the exact same tools that professionals use to make games, but others require little or no prior experience. Scratch, Gamestar Mechanic, Kodu, and Game Maker are all free development tools that are relatively easy to use and have lots of online support. In addition to these tools, the student page of the National STEM Video Game Challenge has a link in the center of the page that lists over forty software packages related to game design and development. The Challenge also has a comparison chart to help you gauge how much programming knowledge is needed to use the different tools. Lastly, some computer and console games also include development or modification (mod) tools that can be used to make new levels and change the game rules. These editing tools are often easy to use. Any of these tools can be used to meet the merit badge requirements.

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  • David Radue is an Eagle Scout and co-leader of the Game Design merit badge development team. He is also the co-founder of the Salem Boardgames Group in Salem, MA, and has had a lifelong passion for games of all kinds. David is a mechanical engineer at MIT Lincoln Laboratory where he has worked on projects ranging from missile defense radars to laser communication systems.

    David Mullich has been a Scouter for eight years and is the father of an Eagle Scout. He designed and programmed his first professional videogames for the Apple II computer while still in college and went on to become a game producer at such companies as Activision, 3DO, Spin Master and The Walt Disney Company. David has spoken about game development at the annual Game Developers Conference, volunteered as a game industry mentor at the USC GamePipe Laboratory, and serves on the Los Angeles Film School’s Game Production Department Advisory Committee.

    Tom Miller is an Eagle Scout and has been a Scouter for many years. He remembers playing games of Yahtzee at family gatherings when he was in Cub Scouts, but his real passion for gaming began in high school, when he joined a club that played games from Avalon Hill such as Afrika Korps and Midway. Now as a father with three teenage sons (all Scouts), Tom continues to enjoy playing games with his family, be it board games like Settlers of Catan or electronic games like World of Warcraft.