Making Games with Freeware

Free Resources to Make Games

At a recent panel discussion at the Eiteljorg Museum, fellow artist Steve Sanderson (creator of the Darkness Calls comic) and I commented on how Native American youth – especially those on reservation-type and other rural areas surrounding Indigenous lands – may not even realise their full potential, based on socio-economic factors.

With that in mind, there are a number of free resources available online which Native American youth (and anyone else) could use to hone their artistic and technical skills. Using these resources as a springboard, one could easily create an workshop to introduce these tools to Native kids. Doing so would allow them to realise they do indeed have creative options for their future…and maybe with that, some additional hope.

Listed here are some various freeware solutions along with some comments. All of these programs have the specific goal of video game creation and design – however, many of these can be used for other purposes, such as digital art. Keep in mind, these are in no particular order.


“The focus of the Alice project is now to provide the best possible first exposure to programming for students ranging from middle schoolers to college students.”

I think this is a great program, especially for those individuals really interested in the nuts and bolts of how video games work. The video tutorials and interface are somewhat intuitive and easy to use.

Blender 3D/

“Blender is the free open source 3D content creation suite, available for all major operating systems under the GNU General Public License.”

This is one of the best resources for individuals to get hands-on experience creating 3D content. Certainly, there is a particular learning curve to this software (some of which is intuitive and some is not). However, there are tons of online resources, communities, galleries, and tutorials. So, with a little patience and reading, one can actually create usable 3D content.

Another great thing about Blender is its availability for commercial use…meaning, that you are able to do anything you want with the stuff you create (including commercial use). For those that don’t have the financial resources to purchase software like Maya (which is a professional industry standard for 3D), Blender is welcome and affordable miracle.


“GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. It has many capabilities. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert quality photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, an image format converter, etc.”

The layout is simple and easy to understand. Using GIMP can easily prepare individuals on the basics of what more professional packages, like Photoshop, can offer. This is an excellent resource for anyone interested in image manipulation. With GIMP, you can create textures for 3D models, touch up photos, digital paint your drawings and sketches, and even create professional-looking comic books and other art.


“The Scrolling Game Development Kit (“GameDev”) is a free / freeware open source tool for 2-D game development. It is designed for the Windows 9x/DirectX platform, and targeted at people spanning a range of skill levels. It can be used by the beginner to become familiar with the structure of computer games and to create complete games that don’t require any coding. It also has applications for the experienced developer who perhaps simply wants to use the program to draw the graphics or define maps. And in the middle there’s applications for creating a game and controlling it through scripting.”

This software comes with some down-to-earth tutorials on how to get started making working 2D games. GameDev is an excellent resource to get individuals involved in the video game making process. Everything is “drag and drop”, so there is no need for prior programming knowledge.

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