The beauty of game design as a learning experience


We know screen time can be powerful family time, for learning and for fun. So, one of our goals is to encourage and enable parents and kids to play apps together.

And in the case of Infinite Arcade — which lets you design and play your own arcade-style games — we hope it’s so much fun that you and your kids forget you’re learning.

As Steven Johnson, author of Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World writes:

The beauty of game design as a learning experience…[is that] it doesn’t feel like learning. It feels like... play... You’re learning the scientific method when you conjure up a game, but you’re also learning product design…Designing a game teaches your kid how to think. And it reminds you how much there is to learn from playing.

Kids learn the scientific method while creating video games because a big part of making them is testing them out. Often, especially when you’re just getting started, testing will reveal where you’re failing. And that’s okay! In their Beginners Guide to Making Your Own Video Game, Kotaku warns, “Your first game won’t look like the polished games you’re used to playing, much like your first drawing won’t come out looking like Monet. This is absolutely fine.” 

This cycle of failing, trying something new, failing, and trying again until you’re successful also helps teach kids persistence and resilience

As an extra bonus, playing video games with your kids has perks of its own, helping to build positive parent-child relationships.

To get started, download the The Infinite Arcade on the App Store and a free guide below. 

If you’re looking for something else, Common Sense Media recommends 14 Tools to Turn Game-Obsessed Kids into Genuine Game Designers.

Free Download
Tinybop The Infinite Arcade Manual

Pick a game format: pinball, ball and paddle, platform, or a maze. You can also start from scratch and invent your own format.


Decide on the goal of your game. To win, does your character or ball need to enter the victory portal, collect all the collectibles, kill all the enemies, or just stay alive?

You can make your game harder by limiting the number of lives your character or ball has to accomplish the goal. When they run out of lives, they die.


Choose your character or ball. If you choose a platform or maze game format, you’ll choose a character or design your own Mutable Ninja. If you choose a pinball or ball and paddle format, you’ll choose a ball or design your own Mercurial Ball. 

Each character and ball has different characteristics that will make it better at some obstacles than others. You can always swap out and test different characters and balls once you’ve created your game.


Start making your game! This is the fun part. Here are a few tips:

  • You can adjust the size of your game with borderlines. You can keep it all on one screen, or expand it so your character or ball moves through space and discovers new obstacles, terrain, hazards, enemies, and collectibles as they do. You can also use different types of borderlines: a dead end (an actual border a character or ball cannot cross), lethal (your character or ball will die if it runs into it), or magic passage (looks like a border but your character or ball can travel through it safely).
  • Tap the infinite drawer to reveal all the parts available for building. Use the brush or eraser to add or remove lots of parts at once.
  • In game settings, you can further customize your game by adjusting the gravity level, changing the number of lives your character or ball has, and writing your own game over messages.

As you make your game, you can easily switch into test mode and play it to see how it's coming together.


As you add parts, here are a few things to think about:

  • Components are the basic building blocks of your game. Depending on what you choose and how you put them together, you can make your game easier or harder.
  • Sounds can make your games more fun.
  • Add words anywhere in your game. You can turn your game into a story with lots of text. Or you can use words to give hints, share secrets, or tease players.

Components include terrain, enemies, hazards, victory portals, collectibles, and mechanics. 

Add terrain to make walls or floors. Different types of terrain can make it easier or harder for your character to travel.


Add enemies and hazards to make your game harder. Each enemy and hazard has different characteristics. Your character or ball can win points by killing enemies but enemies can also kill your character or ball. Hazards can kill your character or ball but they cannot be killed.


Add a victory portal and/or collectibles. Your character can win the game by passing through a victory portal and win points by collecting collectibles.

Add mechanics to make it easier or harder for your character or ball to travel though the game.


If you are playing with a ball, you can add extra controls to help move it travel.


In game settings, you can further customize your game: 

  • Give your character or ball more lives to make your game easier, fewer lives to make it harder.
  • Write your own game over messages.
  • Change gravity to change how your character or ball moves through space.

Now it’s time to play! You’ve probably already tested out your game and have a good sense of how it’s working. Remember: if it’s not a great game right away, don’t despair! Keep editing and tweaking it until it is. And when you’re ready for a real test, share your game with a friend to see how they like it. 

Download the Infinite Arcade Manual below for more tips.

Free Download
Tinybop The Infinite Arcade Manual