If you want to get into game development or design, it might feel like you need to go back to school or take an expensive online course. The reality, however, is that there are a ton of resources on the web for free (and a few more that you would have to pay for) that you can take advantage of to learn how to make your own games.

Disclaimer: The author of this post is not a game designer. She is, however, married to a software engineer and game developer, and it’s impossible not to pick up a few things over more than a decade with someone. Many thanks to @ninjascript for years of love, support, and giving me some pretty good ideas of how all this awesome stuff works.

Free:

  1. Ask Reddit. No, seriously—r/gamedev created a fabulous wiki on how to get started in game development, and it’s a great place to start if you’re new.
  2. Get an overview and some tips, from idea to marketing, from the Free Code Camp by Medium’s article “From Zero to Game Designer.”
  3. Watch some of the “Free” section of videos from the Game Developer Conference (or if you prefer, the archive on their YouTube channel).
  4. Check out Khan Academy’s classes on computer animation and computer programming.
  5. Learn about writing for games, game design, monetization, and more from Extra Credits.
  6. Take part in a game jam like Ludum Dare, and make sure to review other developers’ games and see what feedback your game gets from the community.
  7. Take advantage of Ctrlpaint’s free videos on digital art or browse through the Technical Art: Game Art Tricks in-depth analyses of the digital tricks used by existing games.
  8. Brush up on your mythology with PBS’s Crash Course series to learn about the classic stories that millions of game developers before you (not to mention authors, screenwriters, and others) have based their storylines around.
  9. Learn while you commute by adding some of GameDesigning.org’s 10 favorite podcasts about game design to your rotation.
  10. Find more resources on Medium’s list of top online tutorials to learn game development using Unity.

Available for Money:

  1. Take courses from Udemy like Unreal Engine 4, 2D Game Graphic Design in Photoshop, Android Game Development for Beginners, and more, or Coursera courses like Principles of Game Design or Game Development for Modern Platforms.
  2. Get specific with courses like Learn to Code Trading Card Game Battle System with Unity 3D or Learn to Code by Making a 2D Platformer in Unity.
  3. Read up! Check out GameDesigning.org’s list of the 10 best game design books to find a place to start. This list includes everything from theory to programming and a book of practical challenges to help you improve with every project you work on.
  4. Interested in how artificial intelligence is used in game development? Go deep with O’Reilly’s AI for Game Developers.

Do you have any other resource suggestions we should include here? Want to share with our community about your new game, or seek out collaborators to share the process with? Join the conversation on our forum!

Jen Grogan

Jen Grogan is a writer, editor, web content specialist, and nonprofit administrator based out of Seattle, where she lives with her husband, two loud but adorable cats, and too many books. She’s written for Women Write About Comics and a few other online venues, but has not yet convinced herself to call any of her fiction manuscripts complete. As an editor, she encourages others to do as she says, not as she does. In her free time she enjoys knitting, hiking, calligraphy, leading school tours for the Seattle Art Museum, and traveling to find new places to hike and new museums to visit.