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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