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SumDude

"Fun" Educational Games

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Please don't flame me for this if there was a post for this already. Early today while watching the news they claimed that there were video games that were claiming to be "educational" but were really not educational and were riding off of the parents that were thinking it was "educational". A couple days ago, i read that games are sort of dumbening (sorry for the word but i couldn't think of anything else) kids (i refuse to believe that statement). To get to the point. When i think of educational games, i think of games like Math Blaster and some weird game where a Frog wants you to do things. These games do not seem to be fun or get any attention. I want to know if it would be possible to make a "fun" game that could educate about maths, english, or other subjects appropriately. I want to know if people could make an educational game without basing it TOTALLY around doing the subject they are teaching (Math Blaster has you save things or whatever by doing "gasp" math). The thing that i believe that makes these games less fun is because you KNOW it's trying to teach you. It usually states that by solving some problem you will save the world or something which to me, doesn't sound any fun at all. My question is, what would make an educational game fun? or what would make these games much more enjoyable for not just kids, but for teens to adults? To me, i think they should add education in there for puzzles and the educational part should be HIDDEN. They should not base the story or game on just the education part because we all know that Education usually = Boring. I think they should prioritize gameplay and how fun the game is over the education factor, because if they were to focus on the fun part, the game would have a much bigger audience and people will be more willing to play it. Now i also suggest that the game have tutorials or some way the average game player could figure out the problems presented (like hints or mini tutorials or a character tells you how). That way any gamer can answer the problem without having a college education. I also feel technology could be a key factor in how to get a larger audience. When you look at games like Math Blaster they usually are 2D and don't really have any depth except for doing math. What do you think? (Please no flames, just state ideas or addon ideas) P.S: I Apologize for any grammatical or spelling errors, it's been a hard night on me and i'm not quite awake.

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I don't think that games are a very good medium for educating people. Games like Myst might be able to enhance critical thinking skills (at least they exercise them), but to actually teach things isn't very easy within a game. It boils down to the fact that you need to be presented with the knowledge somehow, and then you need to apply it somewhere, and then you pretty much end up with the standard formula for an educational game that tries to use eye candy, a storyline, or even arcade action interspersed within the "educational" element, which is not exactly that great. Of course, some are better than others, but it's really hard to do well.

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Agreed with CowsAreNotEvil here. Puzzle games can teach people to be observant, create and test hypotheses, come up with new ideas to solve problems, and so on, but they're unlikely to be educational in the sense of "teaches something new." Now granted, critical thinking skills are in sorely short supply right now, so such puzzle games are quite helpful, but the "traditional" educational games, having to lecture the student at some point so the new information is conveyed, tend to fall flat.

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Most children generally like to learn through doing, not sitting and being lectured to, be it being involved in creative projects in school, or going out and experiencing it themselves. I feel that games nowadays are quite educational, like in RTS's where you have to manage resources and troops, and in FPS's where you have to balance ammunition, health, and armor, calculate your odds against opposing forces and the hand-eye co-ordination to perform well. Some games even promote the use of teamwork and good co-operation skills in organized team Deathmatch, or strategy games.

The things that people seem to object to the most is the content in which this is conveyed, they take one look at it and think "how the hell can hacking at demons with a sword be educational?", but games usually involve alot more than just hacking at monsters if you expect to make it all the way to the end.

I personally would like to see more challanging and complex games that require higher levels of math and skills in order to play them well, such as highly complex puzzles in a variety of forms that challenge me to think and solve the current situation to move forward, of course being sprinkled with zombies and alot of action to keep things interesting. ;D

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I think you can teach information in a game without bashing them over the kids head. When I was little, we got Simearth. I learned alot about Earth science from it, even though it wasn't marketed as another Math blaster.

For instance, I learned about greenhouse gases, different biomes, the levels of technology, prokaryotes and eukaryotes, and a bunch of other things.

The point wasn't "quick, what are the greenhouse gases?" but rather "oh no, your planet is cooling, fix it!" So if you want a game that teaches math skills, instead of asking the kid to solve 2+2, have a trading game where he can buy low and sell high. Then kids that don't know anything can still play, but the most successful players know which goods are selling for the greatest difference. (ie: they can do subtraction).

Most of us didn't learn to read so we can read individual words, but so that we can read books and newspapers, etc. If you make success dependant on how well the kid knows his stuff and can apply it, instead of how fast the kid can spout it out, I think you have a game that is educational and fun.

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