originals\ Aug 11, 2013 at 8:00 pm

GameSprout is the community where anyone can fulfill their dream to develop a video game


I know you’ve yelled at your television screen before, demanding to know why the programmer of the game you're playing did a particular something. In your fit of rage and curses under your breath, you swore that if you knew how to program you’d do it better. What if you could help develop a game even though you’re not a programmer or developer? What if you are a programmer or developer?

Let me introduce you to GameSprout. This website is basically a community of gamers that want you to help them develop their games. Right now, GameSprout is in beta and everyone and anyone can make an account. There are “wanted” type ads on projects looking for programmers, art developers, writers, etc. You can apply to that task and work directly with the creator. So even if you’re not necessarily a programmer but exceptional at writing or art, you can still help in the developmental process of a video game. So basically, scroll through the posted games, look for ones that interest you, and then look for tasks available that you could complete.

Don’t’ feel confident with your skill base but are a hardcore gamer? No need to fret! All these developers are looking for game testers as well. So put those long-term skills to the test and help the community out at the same time. After all, a successful game needs your help to be awesome, doesn’t it? I say yes.

I had the honor to ask Jesse Schell (CEO of Schell Games, game designer, author, professor, and founder of GameSprout) some questions about this new project of his. I strongly suggest you check out GameSprout and take a gander at the interview below. It’s time YOU got involved in making the video game of your dreams.

What exactly is GameSprout?

GameSprout is a place for building and sharing games. No expertise is required -- all you need is an idea for a game and the desire to make it become real! At GameSprout, there are opportunities to get feedback on your idea, to help others with their idea, and gateways to getting your game published. 

Where did the idea for GameSprout stem from? How long have you had a project like this in mind?

We started with a very different project, where we made a game a month and let the community submit and vote on content for it. But we found that people didn't want to just help make our games, they wanted help making their *own* game ideas -- so we turned it around, and it became GameSprout. 

What inspired you for this project?

I really believe that anyone can be a game designer -- most people just lack the confidence, the experience, and the partnership. GameSprout is a way of providing all three!

What is GameSprout’s relationship with Kickstarter?

GameSprout's predecessor was a Kickstarted project -- when we got funded, it gave us the confidence that people like the idea of crowd-developed games. Going forward, we hope to help take some of the 350 evolving game ideas in GameSprout right now to market, and some of those may be candidates for Kickstarter funding. 

GameSprout 1

Is GameSprout only for experts or can anyone with an idea or concept get involved?

EVERYONE is welcome, because good ideas can come from everywhere. But don't expect to just dump your idea and leave -- if you want to make it happen, the GameSprout community will be challenging you every step of the way to make your nascent idea stronger -- and that takes a lot of deep thinking and hard work!

Besides concept ideas and programming, how can community members help the developers with their projects?

Just dropping in, playing the prototypes, and giving your thoughts about what you like and what you don't is very helpful!

How does one get involved in the play testing aspect of GameSprout? Do they have to add to the creative process at all first?

Nope -- just sign in, play games, and leave your thoughts!

What is your educational philosophy behind GameSprout?

Learning by doing! We try to guide participants using the design philosophies in my book, The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, but mostly, we want you learn by playtesting, thinking, making changes, and playtesting again. 

GameSprout 2

What are your goals for beta? When are you predicting to go live with GameSprout? Will GameSprout remain free once live?

The beta is open -- we are using this period to figure out what the community wants, and which features are most important. This isn't a cheap prospect for us, we have 6-12 full-time staff on it at any given time, so we do need to find a way to make it monetize -- but right now, we're focused on making a vibrant community. If we can achieve that, we'll start to experiment with different ways to make the project sustainable in the long term. 

Has the community developed as you imagined? Has it gone in the direction you envisioned?

There have been a lot of terrific surprises. For example, we had expected that mostly we'd be seeing raw game ideas from people who couldn't program at all -- but we've seen a lot of programmers show up, many with fully functioning games. We've had a few groups who are professional indie developers who have decided they'd like to develop their game on GameSprout, so that they would have a ready-made community that was already following it, and interested in it. I never thought we'd have so many great games so fast!

Historian, teacher, writer, gamer, cheat master, and tech guru: follow on Twitter @AndrewC_GZ

About The Author
Andrew Clouther Human, historian, teacher, writer, reviewer, gamer, League of Pralay, Persona fanboy, and GameZone paragon - no super powers as of yet. Message me on the Twitters: @AndrewC_GZ
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