Game Maker has been available for a while now and earlier this week yoyogames released version 8 of their DIY game programming application which is growing in maturiity, credibility and user friendliness with each incarnation.
Game Creation is often overlooked by teachers and students all too often as worthwhile teaching and learning tool that offers kids a great deal of creativity, logic and fun. There are a number of Mathematical concepts behind Game Making as well as a number of components from literacy and the arts. If you still need assistance in understanding why you would want to make games in the classroom then take a look here.
For the uninitiated Game Maker has been written to make it easier for people to design and make their own video games. Though you may not be able to make the latest version of Gran Turismo or Call of Duty you can still make many differnt styles of classic games that are lots of fun to play. Plenty of people love to play Tetris, Pacman and other simple platform, puzzle or shooting games. You can make simple games such as these with Game maker, or you can even make quite elaborate strategy games, first-person shooters, third-person shooters, massively multiplayer online games and simulations.
You don't have to write programming code to be able to make games with Game Maker, though it does have a built in programming language to give you full control of your game if you want.
Game Maker comes in two versions: Lite and Pro. Lite is free of charge, but for a small amount of money you can buy the Pro version which has lots more features. It can be downloaded from the official Yoyo Games website. Game Maker runs under all Windows platforms from XP thru Windows 7. You can also download resource packs that contain extra sprites, sounds and examples from the official Game Maker site.
Texas Games has eveything to get you started with game creation in the classroom and there are a number of Video Tutorials available to get you started and inevitably much like Scratch this is a program that your students will be teaching you and each other after a few tutorials and sandpit sessions.