An Introduction to Programming with PICO-8

Welcome! This item can be found here.

I developed this course in an effort to meet some criticisms I had of how to teach:

  1. Programming.
  2. Game-oriented programming
  3. Design.

It is a work in progress but I have been extremely pleased with student performance thus far!

This course is meant to help you get started in video game development using a limited console that has everything we need to work by ourselves until we’re ready to work with others. Remember that video game development (and all of programming) is a collaborative effort. Getting started here means getting started as the member of a new community. It’ll be awkward for a while but soon, after some growth, you’ll start to contribute to that community.

This course is organized for you to follow in one of two ways.

  1. Only reading the lecture notes.
  2. Following along with the lecture notes with my videos.

The videoes can be found on Youtube at:

I will leave this up here for you to work on by yourselves but this course will also be offered at Bellevue University as a general education course.

You can find the syllabus here. in word and in markdown. I’ll also be creating a list of readings that could help inspire you and give you some history about what PICO-8 is for.

So where will we be working?

For the sake of all of our sanity, we will be using the PICO-8 Fantasy Console as I find that it helps bridge the gap between playing games and making games in useful, interesting ways.

  1. PICO-8 - Pick up the Program here (~$15.00)
  2. PICO-8 Wikia - The PICO-8 Wikia knowledgebase
  3. The PICO-8 Cheatsheet! - This will help you after you get started.
  4. The In-Depth PICO-8 Cheatsheet - An exhaustive resource you’ll need soon.
  1. The Fantasy Console Discord Server - This is a space to talk about and to folks doing work on the various fantasy consoles out there!
  2. The PICO-8 Zine - This is a fantastic zine about the PICO-8. They are available at the price you want. Check them out!


  1. Krystian Majewski’s PICO-8 Hero - This is a series of videos from my favorite tutorial maker. He’ll bring you through PICO-8 quickly if you want to accelerate yourself!
  2. Gruber’s Sound Tutorials - These get super into details about the possibilities of what PICO-8’s sound engine can do.
  3. Brigds PICO-8 Tutorials - Another great beginners tutorial that covers a lot of content slowly and with great detail.


  1. Felipe Bueno’s Awesome PICO-8 Collection - This is a Github repository of all sorts of resources about PICO-8.
  2. PICO-8 Resources by Marco Secchi - Collection of resources for PICO-8 of a different kind that Felipe Bueno’s.

Over the course of the semester, we will be learning what PICO-8 actually is and how you can make your own game on this console for you, your friends, and your family to play.

By the time we are finished, you should have enough knowledge to go out and make something interesting.