Games bring back the fun in learning, too. Sure we could read about the Oregon Trail in a textbook, but the game Oregon Trail let you experience the hardships and challenges. Is learning always going to be fun? Of course not…sometimes you really do have to study boring tax laws out of a book. However, for children we need to install the fun in learning first. Learning is a natural, satisfying process. I believe that all kids want to learn, but that our system somehow takes away that innate love of discovery and curiosity (obviously, not on purpose). Games can help restore that curiosity without the risk of failure.
Many games today tend to stuff learning inside of a game rather than making the game ABOUT the learning. You can see that with so many math games where you “shoot” the right fraction or multiplication product. The best part about the games on this list is that you were learning as a side effect. The game didn’t rub the knowledge in your face; you learned it because the game was so engaging, and you wanted to know more! I didn’t come in SimCity wanting to learn economics and zoning laws, but you can bet I studied it passionately when I wanted to expand my city or build a giant zoo.
Overall, I think this article did a very fine job of pointing out the older educational games that were right on target. While I haven’t fully investigated what is out there for kids today, I can’t say I have been impressed yet either. However, if you are interested in some great games that are out there developed by non-profits or universities, I definitely recommend checking out my paper or the game archive. Thanks for reading, and happy gaming!