It's really no secret - game development isn't exactly an easy field to get into. Although the games industry has made great strides into mainstream culture in recent years, it still hasn't gained widespread acceptance, particularly within many educational institutions. The number of educational institutions which offer game design courses are still few and far between, and most people - children and youth in particular- who want to shoot for a development career are effectively left to find their own way, with little to no support from their schools.
That isn't how it has to be.
Recently, while bungling about the Internet, I came across a very interesting little browser-based video game. It's known as Gamestar Mechanic. The premise is simple: it's a game that teaches game design. it first came into being back in 2010; the brainchild of James Paul Gee and Eric Zimmerman. Currently, it's supported by both E-Line Media and the Institute of Play.
Designed first and foremost for players aged 7-14, Gamestar Mechanic introduces its players to the basics of development through a series of quests split into three separate modules. The first module is known as "Addison Joins The League." Once players have gotten through that one and learned the basics, "Addison Joins the Rogue" and "Dungeon of the Rogue" will have players diving deeper into different styles of game creation and learning more about the underlying principles of design. The whole package is available for $19.99; the folks behind Gamestar Mechanic also offer a comprehensive online development course for $249 and an educator's package at a cost of $2 per student.
Beneath the surface, Gamestar Mechanic is more than just an educational game. Once players feel comfortable enough (and, presumably, after completing Addison's quests), they may then choose to either modify already existing content or create their own games through the workshop. Completed work can then be shared with other members of Gamestar Mechanic's thriving development community. It's a system not unlike Roblox, another game development website I've covered several times in the past.
Video games aren't small potatoes anymore. People are starting to realize the value of gaming, both as an entertainment medium and as an educational tool. Further, game development is well on its way to establishing itself among the most sought-after career paths in Western society. Services like Gamestar Mechanic, Valve Pipeline, and ROBLOX may be the first of their kind, but they most definitely won't be the last.
You can check out Gamestar Mechanic for yourself here.