Get Paid to Make Video Games!

Adler Planetarium's Game-Making Workshops 2017

Learn to Code Video Games!

During the Adler Planetarium's Game-Making workshops (application now open) , students will investigate the philosophy behind games as interaction devices, such as how levels and characters are designed to teach players how to survive in a game’s world. Why do more experienced players have a tendency to want to destroy things, while newer players often choose building-based routes? How can a developer use code and logic to predict how a player will act or respond?


On Tuesday and Thursday Evenings in the fall (starting October 10th), Teens will explore the mathematics and mechanics of how both board games and video games are created, which will involve investigating balance, instructions, narratives, and the social aspects of games. Students will learn how to code games using GameMaker Studio, and will also learn game planning and interactive writing technologies including Twine and Trello.


Along with the valuable STEM experience teens will gain through coding their own games using GameMaker Studio, teens will learn how to design sprites (single-entity graphics), music, sound effects, and more. A major goal of the class is for its students to grow as writers and artists, on top of growing as developers. Current high school students at all levels of coding knowledge are welcome to apply.

What do I get for Participating?

1. A lot of awesome knowledge about how to make video games!

2. A $300 Stipend

3. The ability to present your game at Bit Bash, an indie video games festival in Chicago

4. Free admission to the Adler Planetarium while you're a workshop participant

Game-Making Workshops

Tuesday, Oct. 10th, 4:30pm

1300 South Lake Shore Drive

Chicago, IL


The Adler Planetarium is accessible by public transportation via Bus 146. Lot and metered parking are also available.

Detailed Info

The program will take place in three segments, as described below. Workshops will typically meet twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, with additional lab time (for independent work) on Fridays. The last week of the workshops will meet every weeknight evening, to allow students more time to work on their games.


Segment 1: Board Game Design (2 weeks)

Students will learn about the Mechanics-Dynamics-Aesthetics method of board game design. In doing so, students will explore introductory design methods (designing for an audience, designing for efficient communication of information, designing to develop an aesthetic). Students will begin by modifying an existing board game, and will eventually produce their own board games.


Segment 2: Narrative and Interactive Development (3 weeks)

Students will learn about how to create compelling, diverse, and inclusive characters for their games, through creating a Choose Your Own Adventure Game using Twine (an HTML editor also used for game planning). Students will learn about how to make their games accessible to different audiences (key bindings, controllers, accommodating for people with disabilities). Students will also investigate how others respond to their games, and investigate psychology about how players are motivated.


Segment 3: Coding in GameMaker (7 weeks)

Students will learn GameMaker studio through a series of instructional modules. GameMaker Studio is a professional game development engine that uses a programming language similar to C++ (in that it is object-oriented, and allows for many different options when coding). The first modules will use GameMaker's drag-and-drop method, to introduce students to the basics of coding; but later modules will push students to code on their own. These tutorials will lead into consultations with the instructor, which will themselves lead into students creating their own games.


Adler's Game-Making Workshops will culminate with an Arcade event on December 15th, 2017, during which students will show their games to peers, family, and members of Chicago's indie games community. Teens who participate in the program will also take part in a summer field trip opportunity at the indie game festival Bit Bash, during which they will be able to show any games they have created to developers from across the United States, network with members of the national gamemaking community, and gain information about any available internships beginning in the fall.