Gamestar Mechanic is a game-based platform and curriculum that teaches youth ages 8 – 14 how to design video games to foster systems thinking and 21st century skill building (problem solving, critical thinking, iterative design, creativity and collaboration), and to create a powerful motivation for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.

Gamestar Mechanic features the following components:

  • Play: An online, browser-based game that teaches the core principles of game design and how to use the design tools through playing and fixing games in the context of an exciting narrative.
  • Design: A powerful suite of game creation tools that enable players to design original games through easy-to-use drag and drop tools.
  • Share: A vibrant community where players can publish, review, compete and collaborate on game design with peers and mentors.
  • Curriculum: A flexible, modular curriculum that can be used by teachers in formal and informal learning environments as well as through online courses.

IoP & MacArthurGamestar Mechanic is published by E-Line Media in partnership with the Institute of Play. The platform was originally developed by Gamelab in partnership with the Academic Advanced Distributed Learning Co-Lab (AADL) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Initial research and development was made possible in part by generous funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for an original grant proposal by James Paul Gee, Ph.D and Eric Zimmerman.

In our first full years since launch, the Gamestar Mechanic platform and curriculum has been implemented in over 4,000 schools and after-school programs. There have been over 350,000 original youth-created games that have been played over 10 million times in more than 100 countries.

The game has been positively reviewed in a wide variety of magazines, newspapers and blogs ranging from the New York Times to Common Sense Media and has received consistently positive feedback from teachers, parents and kids. Click here to read the press coverage.


Play the game at!

View the online version of the accompanying curriculum at

Check out the two phDs exploring the pedagogical research underlying the game, by Alex Games (PDF) and Robert Torres (PDF).

Read the Common Sense Media review of Gamestar Mechanic.