GameSalad for Education
GameSalad is an open-ended, professional game development platform, complete with publishing to the web and popular mobile devices.
When students start easily building video games using our visual programming interface they’ll get excited about customization, modifications, and look forward to the next chance to work on their project.
Use this guide to learn the components of GameSalad and best practices so you can leverage the platform to achieve the learning objectives of your specific class.
If you’re new to GameSalad, watch this short 5 minute video as a quick overview of the platform then review the complete instructions below:
THE GAMESALAD PLATFORM
GameSalad for Education includes all of the following components.
How will you apply these resources in your classroom?
The teacher dashboard is where teachers view the provided lesson plans, assign tutorials, manage your classroom, and view student progress! The teacher dashboard is accessed via a toggle at the top of your screen when you login at https://creator.gamesalad.com. It is only visible to teachers.
The video below provides an in-depth tour of the teacher dashboard.
We provide content on computer science fundamentals and programming concepts. Our curriculum is:
Standards aligned: CSTA and TEKS.
Teacher-led: Including hours of in-class lessons and activities.
Project based: Lessons are tagged with points at which to incorporate a Creator tutorial, so you can alternate lessons and game-building.
TUTORIALS: GAME-BUILDING GUIDES
Build working games easily, following our detailed instructions.
Project-based learning helps students understand how programming works as they build games. Each tutorial introduces additional programming concepts. Tutorials include videos and written step-at-a-time directions with screenshots.
Students log in to https://creator.gamesalad.com and see only the tutorials that you have assigned through the Teacher Dashboard. Learn more about assigning tutorials here.
Two types of assessments help you evaluate student progress:
Commonly referred to as “GameSalad Creator” or “Creator”.
Students and teachers always begin by logging in here.
This is where:
Students build their games and take quizzes.
Teachers view either the Editor or the Teacher Dashboard.
Creator auto-saves after each change that is made. When a save is taking place, you should see a quick message appear in the bottom left-hand corner of the interface. If your network is busy, the auto-save may take a moment or two to actually complete.
Always look to the bottom left-hand corner of the screen to confirm that the last steps have been saved by seeing the successful auto-save message before closing out of a project or previewing.
The GameSalad Viewer app is available on the major app stores and allows students to keep and play their creations directly on their mobile devices!
Refer to this article for more details on how to import a project with the Viewer app.
PUBLISHING / GAMESALAD ARCADE
Format games for the web, popular mobile devices (i.e Apple and Android phones and tablets), or even for submission to the major app stores.*
*Publishing to app stores requires adhering to the specific process for each store, involving separate publishing fees and credentials NOT included in the GameSalad educational license. Formatting games for uploading to the stores IS included through GameSalad.
The GameSalad Arcade allows users to publish for FREE. Students can choose to share URL’s for their games to be played online on any computer.
Refer to the video below to learn how to publish to the GameSalad Arcade.
If you need any assistance or have any questions, feel free to contact us using the information below.
We’re here to help!
GameSalad runs on any computer with internet access and a modern web browser.
Google Chrome is recommended
Minimum 2GB of RAM
URLs that need to be whitelisted:
Check out the more detailed technical requirements here.
Follow the tips in this guide to give your students an optimized GameSalad experience. And always, CONTACT US for additional support if needed!
GRADE LEVELS: WHO SHOULD USE GAMESALAD?
GameSalad adapts to diverse learning needs and students’ prior programming experience.
4th-5th: Advanced students, who have already completed other coding programs, may do well in the GameSalad platform. Please contact us about a trial to see if GameSalad fits your young learners.
6th-8th: Perfect for middle school learners, open-ended programming and a visual interface move students forward, beyond simple coding exercises.
9th-10th and Beyond: A great introduction to programming for older students, GameSalad engages students in building their own projects without the frustration of traditional coding syntax.
UNDERSTANDING THE CREATOR INTERFACE
The best way for an instructor to learn the Creator interface is the same way the students do
- jump right in!
You can join one of your own classes. Assign yourself the CS.1 Wizard Run and CS.2 Monster Maze student tutorials through the Teacher Dashboard, and complete the steps just as a student would in the Creator platform.
Or, review this fast-paced teacher-facing recording. In it, our wonderful trainer Braydon builds the first game just as the students would. Pause, rewind, and repeat to fit your learning style.
CREATOR: TEACHING IN AN OPEN ENDED PLATFORM
GameSalad is an open-ended game design platform used by professional game developers. Students access a world of possibility where their own ideas can come to life, by writing instructions in order to achieve the desired game effects. In other words, the platform allows rules, actors and behaviors to be added into the program freely.
The game-building tutorials show students exactly how to create the specified project. Often, there could be several ways to achieve the desired programming result, some more complex than others.
BEGINNERS AND ADVANCED LEARNERS: GOING BEYOND THE TUTORIAL
The GameSalad platform adapts to learners at different levels of proficiency and programming ability. All students can be successful, engaged, motivated, and challenged.
Students are invited to build the games as specified, no additional programming is required. Even when following the tutorial, there is room to customize the look and function of your game and make it your own.
Students are also welcome to go beyond the scope of the tutorial, creating additional levels, increasing the complexity of the rules, adding actors and behaviors, etc. Some students may even be ready to create their own original capstone game (LINK) from scratch.
In addition, students are welcome to try adding additional elements to the games they are building. This is where GameSalad shines, because students are not limited to the exact programming in the tutorial.
Students can easily import their own graphics and sounds, though images and sounds are already provided within the templates for each game. You can help them find free assets online that are appropriate for classroom use.
CHOOSING GAMES AND LESSON PLANS
Review the Lesson Plans and Tutorials to determine where you want to focus your students' time. Below is a suggested sequence for approaching the curriculum. Also consider the following:
Are State Standards part of your focus?
Our curriculum is standards aligned to CSTA and TEKS.
Is Interactive teaching valuable to your students?
The Lesson Plans are full of classroom activities.
Is Game Design your primary learning objective?
The Tutorials will give your students a foundation on which to spend time creating original games or components within the provided games. Image and sound assets are easily imported into the platform. Customization of the tutorials, extra levels, and completely original games are all ways to utilize the editor.
The Digital Citizenship units contain essential information on how to navigate the internet safely and responsibly, but they do not contain a tutorial game. GameSalad includes two versions of the unit, one for younger students (CS.A) and one for older students (CS.B). Choose which is most appropriate for your class.
Why Computer Science?:
The "Why Computer Science?" Unit is another unit which contains in-class lessons only. Students will explore components of computer and technology use. You can choose where to place this lesson in the curriculum.
Wizard Run or Monster Maze:
Both Wizard Run (CS.1) and Monster Maze (CS.2) are good starting points after Digital Citizenship.
Wizard Run: is a shorter unit that introduces the students to the GameSalad interface. It comes with a completed game, and the students lay out a new level for the game. You can choose whether to complete this unit together as a class. This may be a good option for younger learners, with the teacher reading the tutorial and explaining the platform components to the class.
Monster Maze: jumps right in to students building their own games and is more engaging, while also covering the basics of the Creator interface. Generally students excel when completing units at their own pace. Monster Maze and most of the other tutorials include videos, as well as written instructions, that allow different types of learners to absorb the material.
After Wizard Run / Monster Maze:
The curriculum is designed to be very flexible and modular. We list the units in order of increasing complexity, but the units you do after the students have been introduced to the platform can vary based on many factors (i.e the amount of time you have the students each week).
A student that has completed Monster Maze (CS.2) would be able to complete a more complex game like the platformer game (Space Runner) in CS.6, so the main limiting factor is time. If you can only complete 3 units during your class time, something like the following would be a valid option:
Digital Citizenship -> CS.2 (Monster Maze) -> CS.4 (Good Tank, Bad Tank) -> CS.6 (Space Runner)
The last CS unit, Capstone Game (CS.8), is for students to break off into groups and create a game from scratch using the things they've learned throughout the class. Refer to the lesson plan for this unit for more details.
PREVIEWING AND DEBUGGING
Previewing the game is the best way to stay on track while coding. It’s easy and fun because you get to briefly play the game you are building in order to check its functions!
Previewing is done by clicking the green play button in the top right corner of the Creator interface.
Some common programming errors will show a red warning message to give a heads up to the student as they code, but due to the open-ended nature of the interface, other errors will only reveal themselves upon reviewing the code, or Previewing the game.
Previewing often will limit debugging to the last section of code written. In other words, if your game works correctly as intended when you Preview and play it to test its functions, you can move on to the next piece of code.
Beginning students should Preview very often. For example, students should attempt to walk through the walls they have just built in Monster Maze, move their actors as intended and test other elements of the scene, in order to try and "break" the game.
If the platform is having trouble loading the preview, there is likely an issue with the logic that has been written. When this happens, students need to debug their project to find the issue.
Help students "think like a programmer".
Game development is an iterative process, which means that after every change you make, you should test your changes, then modify the game again until it looks and acts the way you want.
Students need to use the iterative process as they build, even when following the tutorials. With GameSalad, students can easily debug with the use of On/Off buttons to pinpoint problematic rules without having to delete and recreate them.
The On/Off buttons are located in the top left corner of every behavior.
When a rule is toggled “off” the platform behaves as if it is not there. When a rule toggled “On”, the platform reads and tries to execute the rule when the specific conditions are met.
If your game is not behaving properly, try previewing with a certain rule toggled “Off”. Start by turning Off the most recent rule you added, then preview. If the game is then working correctly, the problem is located in the rule you just turned Off. If it's still not working, continue turning rules Off one at a time and previewing in-between to narrow down where the problem is located.
Contact us! If you have tried to determine where the trouble is with the program and cannot find it, then email firstname.lastname@example.org with the URL of the game and some details of what’s not working correctly.