Do most educational games suck?

Since my preview of Conspiracy Code: U.S. History at NECC, I’ve been thinking again about educational games…

Here are a bunch of screen shots of different online games for learning. I found them by typing into Google variations of learning games, educational games, learning games high school, educational games middle school, and so on. Most of these appear to be aimed at kids of middle or high school age.

FunBrain Math Baseball

FunBrainMathBaseball

PBS Kids You’re in Charge

PBSKidsItsMyLife

Quiz Hub U.S. History Timeline Quiz

QuizHubUSHistory

Math Playground Math TV

MathPlayground

UPDATE: The creator of this would like me to note that Math TV is a 'learning activity' rather than an educational 'game.' See the comments below for more on this.

eSchoolOnline eMath Pretest

ESchoolOnline

Asian Countries – Level Seven

SheppardAsianCountries

Hotmath Number Cop

HotMathNumberCop

Teach-nology Diner Dash

Teach-NologyDinerDash

CoolMath Pool Geometry 2

PoolGeometry2

Eat or Be Eaten

EatOrBeEaten

Just from a graphics standpoint, I have to wonder how interesting these games are to preteens and teens when the games below are more along the lines of what they see at home.

Grand Theft Auto IV

GrandTheftAutoIV

Madden NFL ‘09

MaddenNFL09

Elder Scrolls: Oblivion

ElderScrolls

Super Mario Galaxy

SuperMarioGalaxy

Nancy Drew: Ransom of the Seven Ships

NancyDrewRansomOfSevenShips

BioShock

BioShock

Plants vs. Zombies

PlantsVsZombies

Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

PrinceOfPersiaSandsOfTime

So I’ve got some questions…

  1. Does the quality of the graphics matter when it comes to educational games? Or is the quality of the learning experience enough?
  2. Speaking of the learning experience, just how bad are most of these so-called ‘educational games?’ I wasn’t too impressed with the games shown above. In terms of gaming complexity, many of them are using pretty simplistic techniques to try and reach what I’m guessing are fairly-savvy students. Also, many of them seemed to be games from many years ago that still are being pitched to educators and adolescents. I found two of the learning games as links from a high school web site (Asian Countries – Level Seven and Eat or Be Eaten), which made me feel really sad for the students who were in that school.
  3. Maybe it’s completely unfair to compare online learning games with commercial games that are downloadable or on CD-ROM/DVD. So what is out there that’s comparable in the commercial downloadable/DVD educational games sector? Anything good? Vendors, if you think you’ve got educational games that are worth looking at, feel free to comment!

Your thoughts?

95 Responses to “Do most educational games suck?”

  1. Compared with 5 years behind, educational games are far much better. It also depends on the teachers, whether they can select appropriate games for their students which lead into learning and understanding and not just fun playing stuffs.

  2. Jinahrel, Myst Sage Reply November 23, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    I don’t know if any of you have already mentioned this but… there is a very good adventure game called Myst. It and it’s successors have truly created a wonderful learning experience. The games keep people of all ages occupied, and attentive, and they require all sorts of skills in order to proceed. I highly recommend looking at them, if not playing them.

  3. I agree some are rubbish but our job as parents involve screening the information we are feeding our kids.

  4. I don’t teach kids, but was very impressed by Kyle Mawyer’s wiki on using Flash games in class: http://kylemawer.wikispaces.com/. He blogged about it here: http://sixthings.net/2009/03/26/six-computer-games-to-use-in-an-english-language-classroom/

  5. I agree. Most education games are a waste of time.

    The graphics point is an interesting one. My view is that the more engaging the graphics (not necessarily the most photo-realistic) the more immersive the experience for the player.

    Immersion isn’t the same as engagement but if a player is immersed in a game they are more likely to stick at it and keep coming back to complete the game or improve scores.

    Graphics give the impression of how much value has been given to the player. A bit like cruddy classrooms showing students that their education isn’t really worth investing in.

    Could you also argue that the first set of games aren’t learning games, they’re teaching games?

    Also, plenty of learning can happen while playing the big commercial titles; problem-solving, spatial awareness, strategic thinking, collaboration etc. The trick is helping students to be aware of the learning and apply it to the real world.

  6. Yes. Most “educational” games suck. They are created to make drills and tedious practice more palatable. They are thinly veiled attempts to make kids “learn” facts or skills that have been traditional goals of education. I think that the simple offline games that are with the Investigations math program are often better at having kids learn without realizing it! If kids were ENGAGED in something and had to use particular skills or knowledge to reach a goal that was meaningful to them, they would find a way to learn the skills or facts or whatever. If the goal is to solve as many math problems as possible in as short a time as possible, whether there are aliens or puppies or whatever, it’s just not as important.

    Commercial games have engaging environments for players; they are scaffolded, and there are goals that are appropriately difficult for players. (If not, players will get bored or frustrated and will find “cheats” or will just quit.) They are immersed in an environment where they can collaborate, cooperate, problem-solve, infer, comprehend…. These are “background skills” for education, but they are not among the discrete subject-area standards students must meet. A math teacher has very specific skills to teach, and unfortunately, there are no engaging games that teach these skills in an appealing environment. Yes, there are drills so kids can practice the skills, but is that much better than a worksheet? (I had anxiously awaited Algebots: Beat the Game, Pass the Course, but at first glance, I was disappointed!)

    Social Studies and Language Arts (Reading?) teachers have more opportunities to find games that can be used to help students meet their standards.

    How can we create a fun, engaging game that will force(? allow?) students to use skills that are deemed important, but are not contrived and mind-numbing?

  7. Most current groups making educational games do not seem to have much background (or at least they do not put much thought into) game design. There are however some older games like Number Munchers or Rocky’s Boots that in fact have admirable game design (I would still be happy to use Number Munchers with a class if I was teaching at an appropriate level). (There are some more obscure 80s educational games that are also good game design, but have such low-tech graphics I would worry about presenting them to a modern audience.)

    Graphics don’t necessarily matter; students are used to playing Flash games with comparable graphics (and knowing from my substitute teacher experience will often try to sneak in playing them in a computer class rather than doing work).

    I had a free computer lab day recently with a class that I took to have them test various math games and provide reviews. The only one that got positive reviews was Fuel the Brain: http://www.fuelthebrain.com/Game/

    Dimension M has always impressed me, but I haven’t had a chance to test it before:

    http://www.dimensionm.com/

    Villian, Inc. seems interesting for younger levels, but again I haven’t tested it:

    http://villainyinc.thinkport.org/teachers/default.asp

  8. “Interactive fiction” isn’t choose your own adventure books; you may have heard of Zork, although development on these types of games go on to the present day, and even not-designed-for-educational games have good literacy uses and teachers have experimented with them before.

    These games came out this year:
    Blue Lacuna (large fantasy game)
    King of Shreds and Patches (Lovecraft horror)
    Alabaster“>http://playthisthing.com/alabaster”>Alabaster (Modern take on Snow White fairy tale, very nice conversation AI here)
    Make it Good (Detective game)
    Inside Woman (Industrial espionage)

    All of them are free.

    Here is a bibliography on the use of interactive fiction in education:

    http://emshort.wordpress.com/teaching-if/

    I should finally note I have some friends who have started a new company for making interactive fiction targeted at middle school students:

    http://textfyre.com/

    They have just released their first game.

  9. Yes, most educational games suck. This is because most of them equate to nothing less than electronic version of the drill and kill teaching methodology.

    Does the quality of the graphics matter when it comes to educational games?
    Not really. I don’t think it is any different than with commercial video games. While there will always be people who want better looking games, gameplay always trumps graphics when it comes to importance. Just look at the weakest (graphically at least) console of the major three right now. The Wii is outselling the Xbox and PS3 due to immersion in the gameplay experience. To bring it back to learning games, graphics may get you in the door but the experience (fun or not) will keep you engaged.

    Speaking of the learning experience, just how bad are most of these so-called ‘educational games?’
    Pretty bad. Probably because they mostly rely on simple rote memorization and logic activities. This is mostly a technology/money issue. As the costs of game development decrease you will find better “learning” games. Immersive environments, advanced AI, and complex objectives will be common place. That is assuming you are looking for deeper learning experiences then learning your times tables.

    So what is out there that’s comparable in the commercial downloadable/DVD educational games sector? Anything good?
    If you haven’t already, you should check out Making History by Muzzy Lane. They do a great job at providing a platform for studying WWII in a familiar (at least to the gamer generation), flexible, and fun way.

    Although, I think this question is best met by a quote from Will Wright, creator of Sim City, The Sims, and Spore.
    “Why are we even talking about ‘educational games’ — as if games weren’t already educational”
    There is an article at Kotaku (http://bit.ly/8uiER) that explains his position better than I. It basically boils down to the often over looked fact that today’s video games are complex learning environments. Instead of looking to attach video games to our curriculum, we should be looking to attach our curriculum to video games.

  10. I am currently in training for a 3d MUVE called Quest Atlantis. So far I am really impressed with the quality of tasks. This is not a drill game by any means. It involves all the right stuff. To name a few: research based, an engaging story, great built-in motivators, a reasonably good virtual world presence, excellent application tasks in math, science, language arts, social commitments, metacognition, and a protected but not stifling environment. http://atlantis.crlt.indiana.edu/
    and another: http://crlt.indiana.edu/research/qa.html

  11. Two exceptions:

    1) Oregon Trail: http://bit.ly/anJLv – Any game that introduces this http://bit.ly/2beVOw to seven-year-olds has it nailed.

    2) Algebra Rabbit: http://bit.ly/MmMeM (only existing demo is within this demo for the game at the provided link)

    And let’s cut these educational game developers a break. It’s not like they spent 1.5 million dollars developing them. I mean, come on, who would invest that kind of money in something that can be taught by simply getting students involved directly in their communities, working with others, and drawing conclusions on why their city is the way it is today?

  12. @Glenn, I’m not sure what that last comment means. Are you saying something like Orbiter

    http://orbit.medphys.ucl.ac.uk/

    which is a space flight sim with such exact detail one needs to use physics formulas to make it anywhere, has the exact same educational qualities as community involvement?

  13. You might want to look into the work being done by the Games For Learning Institute (http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/collaboration/institutes/gamesinstitute.aspx) which is looking at many of your questions. Also related is the Kodu project (http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/projects/kodu/) which was developed with the idea that professional concole quality graffics are important in educational games.

  14. How do educational iphone apps compare to online educational games and traditional computer games? Are they useful in a classroom setting?

  15. To answer that question you have to define what “not sucking” would be. And that answer depends on what you believe about learning. If you believe that practice creates understanding, or that drilling and quizzes are an integral part of learning, then no, these don’t suck. They get that job done.

    However, I think they are more about “schooling” than “learning”. There’s a big difference. It’s obvious that kids are learning lots when they play games, it’s just not what School wants them to learn. I address this in this article, along with the economics of educational game development. http://genyes.org/programs/supplemental/edgames

    People also might be interested in listening to a short presentation about games in education here:
    http://k12onlineconference.org/?p=332

    There is also a companion wiki with a lot of links to research about games in education.
    https://k12online08presenters.wikispaces.com/Sylvia+Martinez

    Or an interview conversation with Scott Meech and me about educational iphone games
    http://www.iear.org/iear/2009/5/13/sylvia-martinez-show-47-and-interview-6.html

    Much of the hype about games and education is simply that – hype. It’s unfortunate and distracting. But it’s a symptom of a larger societal disagreement about what the goals of education are and what “learning” means. There are good games out there to suit everyone, you just can’t lump them all together and make one judgement. Caveat emptor!

  16. Nice post and nice comments everyone. Tim hit it on the head. The best commercial games ARE the best becaus they support so much learning. It is hard to exploit the just-in-time learning in immersive games for the just-in-case knowledge that fills K-12 classrooms.

    Jason mentioned DimensionM that looks more like current videogames, but is essentially drill and practice (procedural engagement). Because it trains kids in some pretty routine stuff, it has been proven raise scores on basic skills tests. We have always know test prep like this works, but it is only because kids can calculate more quickly in their heads. But given that automaticity facilitates deeper processing by freeing up resources, sure, use it. It is essentially flash cards, but if the game makes kids do it longer than flash cards or Math Blaster, then that is good. But I worry that school computer labs and budgets that are already locked down by test prep are using what resources they have left for more of the same.

    There are a bunch of educationally relevant games at Games for Change that are engaging and look nice that folks should consider using in their classrooms. We am currently developing and sharing curricular guidelines and informal assessments for some of them if anybody is interested (full disclosure, I have collaborated some with G4C)

    Penny mentioned Quest Atlantis and I agree. It also has some really solid theorizing behind it from Sasha Barab and Melissa Gresalfi. They have done a good job defining and supporting more worthwhile forms of engagement (i.e., conceptual, consequential, and critical). Like River City, it runs in Active Worlds 3-D authoring system, and they keep adding nice new features (full disclosure re QA and DimensionM, I work with QA)

  17. I agree w/ a lot of what was said above, and I’m so glad to see the references to Number Munchers and Oregon Trail. Along w/ Carmen Sandiego and countless adventure games, those are games I remember fondly growing up and I think had definite educational value–if not always in terms of learning facts than at least in terms of problem-solving, which I think is a better use of educational games anyway.

    Will Wright (who clearly knows a thing or two about game design) gave a great interview w/ the Chronicle of Higher Ed recently (though it currently appears to be missing from their site) in which he said he sees the value in educational gaming more in introducing topics and motivating students to learn more about them than being used as tools for direct teaching. If you think about it, that makes a lot of sense, since the more you insert pedagogy, the more you destroy good game design and the less engaging it will be.

    On the point of graphics, it really doesn’t seem fair to compare games that have budgets in the millions of dollars to games made w/ far less money. That said, if you look at the countless games out there for download for Xbox Live or WiiWare, there are plenty of games out there that don’t necessarily have hi-res photorealistic graphics, but what they do have going for them is personality and polish, and I do think games that have educational value can engage kids w/ personality and polish (Oregon Trail and Number Munchers are two dated but relevant examples).

  18. I’ve never seen Math Playground and the “s word” in the same article. There’s a first time for everything, I suppose.

    I will begin by defending my own work first. I think if you take the time to view the activity, you would see that it is not a game. It is an instructional tool for students who want to learn how to solve math word problems. The main character receives a math problem to solve on her computer and invites students to watch a mathcast of the solution.
    Students then have the option to try a couple of problems similar to the one that was solved. A calculator and notepad are available for students to use. The clear explanations and engaging environment have helped many students learn new ways to approach math word problems.

    I think it’s incredibly unfair to compare online flash games to commercial video games. Most educational content developers work alone and without a budget. We are driven by passion and a desire to provide educational content for students at no cost. Our rewards arrive in the many letters of thanks that fill our inboxes each day; from the parent whose child has learned how to divide decimals; from the teacher who found a way to help her students master fractions, and from the student who can hardly contain his excitement over winning the math game he’s been playing every day for weeks.

    How one determines the quality or value of games is very subjective. Number Invaders is a game on my site that you would likely classify as an esthetically empty, drill and kill game. Yet, in spite of that (or, perhaps, because of that?), this game has helped thousands of students achieve fluency with multiplication facts. Does that game have value? I think it does because it succeeds in meeting an educational goal.

    As a teacher who has a very strong interest in the potential of educational gaming, I understand your frustration with the relative lack of quality of these games. Commercial games have shown us what is possible today as far as graphics, story, and game play go.
    We are all waiting for educational gaming to improve. However, embarrassing those of us who are trying to make a difference, who are striving to improve our skills and create higher quality educational materials, is unproductive.

  19. I just want to throw a quick plug in here for my friends over at http://www.filamentgames.com I think they’re taking educational gaming to the next level, but check it out yourself and see what you think. In the name of full disclosure I should mention that I’m a member of the Games+Learning+Society research group here at UW-Madison ( http://www.gameslearningsociety.org ), and that one of Filament’s founders is an alumnus of the program.

    Incidentally, I’d written a much longer reply in this thread with a lot of other content, but when I was testing one of the links it opened up on this page in this window and no amount of back tabbing (nor options available via right click) in the browser would bring back the text I’d written. Guess I should’ve utilized the full HTML and set it to open in a new window.

  20. An interesting simulation/game used to be available called “Virtual University.” Although it no longer seems to be available (http://www.virtual-u.org/), there still exists screen shots and conference proceedings/papers (http://bit.ly/15Z8n6 and http://bit.ly/3kG8Vo) discussing it’s use to help future higher ed. administrators about the ups and downs of their desired careers. Although I am not an aspiring higher education administrator, I found the game to carry some pretty heavy weight in the area of problem solving.

    Another great resource for education-related game in general is the Education Arcade (http://www.educationarcade.org/)

  21. “Maybe it’s completely unfair to compare online learning games with commercial games that are downloadable or on CD-ROM/DVD.”

    It is completely unfair. You can’t compare a game whose purpose is “make money and entertain” with a game whose purpose is “give kids a different opportunity to become fluent with math facts.” Just like you can’t run a school district like a business. The fundamental purposes are at odds.

    Also, I spend a good amount of time gaming, and I’d like to add my 2 cents that good graphics don’t make a game fun, and rudimentary graphics don’t make a game not fun. Desktop Tower D, for example, is fun. Lots of titles you can buy in a shiny box for your xbox are stupid.

  22. I’m late to this conversation, but I just wanted to point out that one major impediment to the creation of educational games that rival commercial games is the lack of equipment to play them in schools. I work for a major educational publishing company that would like to create dynamic educational games with graphics as engaging as the top commercial games, but schools don’t have the hardware to utilize those kinds of games. The comparison of the educational games Scott selected vs. the commercial games is apples to oranges, not only because the educational games were free but also because the commercial games are all made for game consoles like PlayStation and WII . . . expensive game consoles that schools cannot afford. The real conundrum is that until schools have the hardware to utilize dynamic games, educational publishing companies don’t have the incentive to invest millions to develop them, and until publishing companies create really dynamic educational games with a proven record of success, schools can’t justify investing in expensive game systems.

    • Yes, I am going to say that in general education games suck when compared to modern games (off the shelf variety) that kids are drawn to. Graphics and gaming experience are huge and sadly too many of our education games are still drill and kill (as in interest). I don’t think the market and therefore budget is there. The gaming industry is huge (bigger than the movie industry) and a high quality game will have millions in development and it will sell to a huge market. The ed. market is big, but too splintered to have the same high quality games made so we have to settle for the low quality single purpose games.

  23. From practical experience – I have been unable to get my kids to play any of the free games more than once (if at all).
    Even most commercial math games IMO miss the mark, hence I created http://mathgamereview.com to share my experiences. Two games that are excellent math games are Timez Attack (multiplication) – http://bigbrainz.com and MathRider (addition to division) – http://math-rider.com.

  24. Does the quality of the graphics matter when it comes to educational games?
    What is it that makes a game educational in the first place? I argue that the games cited here as educational are in-fact instructional systems focusing on creating ad validating productivity, comprehension and competence in a narrow area. They also assume that the user has the internal specialized knowledge needed to read the game as being educational. So yes, graphics matter – because graphics are a literacy, and like the written word, can be primitive and clumsy or stunningly evocative or a deeper idea or meaning.

    Or is the quality of the learning experience enough?

    How are you measuring quality and learning. The Educational games you cite are operate at an entirely uni-structural level. Verbs we can apply are – memorise, identify, recognise, count, define, draw, find, label, match, name, quote, recall, recite, order, tell, write, intimate. Why? Because instructional designers make terrible game designers for one and secondly because students have to be able to move past this level to more complex decoding of why they are doing it. In themselves they have un-attractive goals. You can add all the graphics you like, but if you fail to move past and provide fluid, iterative pathways to and from this level or ‘learning’ it’s just plain boring and not worthy of being called a game.
    How bad are these games as a learning experience? No worse than the experience in a classroom founded on Blooms Taxonomy and blogging. They too fail to understand the learning archetypes in the games that you cite later. In my view – with invention, you can use most commercial games on Xbox, Playstation, DS etc to create amazing learning experiences. It is a sad reality that most teachers believe that Web2.0 can do similar. It cannot. Consider that games are a document – but that most teachers are completely unable to read. In fact 3/4 year olds are highly capable learners without the literacies we assume we must first teach – letters, number, shapes – Any 4 year can play highly complex games, because the games are in themselves complex knowledge and learning systems.

    What’s out there?

    I challenge anyone to a duel. Take a topic, take your content, take your outcomes. You select you most powerful Web2.0 tools and methods, and I’ll use non Web2.0 and a commercial game system. At the end, kids present their work and defend it. I’ll win – because educational game developers are driven by content based goals, and must serve their market equally ignorant of how games work. In professional development of teachers – playing Warcraft with them will change their worldview and make them far more inventive that giving them information and hope they use it. Why? Because in playing from scratch in Warcraft, I can explain how today’s 1 billion gamers learn. From that you can easily rethink how the classroom can work.

    However, I am an outlier … and possibly insane according to the norms reformers.

    http://www.deangroom.com

  25. Hello, I am an American English teacher with 20+ consecutive years of teaching, including in four universities.
    You may be interested in 114 interactive games for learning English. These do not insult the intelligence of adults. They could all be programmed for computer use and sale on CDs. Unfortunately, I don´t know anything about programming.

    Can you suggest something?

    David

  26. I hate coming late to the conversation :( – but thanks for this article and all of the great comments and conversation. Hope to catch up with you all on technology-based curriculum in 2011.

  27. Does seem like so many “educational games” are animated versions of homework. Merging education and entertainment is almost as much of an art as it is science.

  28. I used to teach a problem solving course for elementary students. Since each room of the school had a Promethean board, I spent a lot of time researching online trying to find engaging games that we could play together as a class on the whiteboard. All of my students LOVED and I highly recommend the games on hoodamath.com. They have games that reinforce basic mathematics skills, but they also have a huge selection of games that elicit critical thinking and problem solving skills. Of course they do not compare to the level of visuals in the video games pictured above, but they are stimulating. I know many of my students began to use this website whenever they had free time during computer class and at home. That definitely says something.

  29. I worked in educational software for 15 years, from 1990-2005, and am very sad to report that the reason there aren’t high quality educational games is that the money isn’t there to pay for the development costs. When companies could charge $40-60, games like Zoombinis and Carmen Sandiego were made, but when the industry shifted to selling CDs for $5.99 at Staples, there was no funding for new products. “Educational” is the kiss of death for software today; the best games are “stealth learning” like “Chocolatier” and “Azada”, with good game play but no overt curriculum–embedded puzzles and simulations. If only there were money for development…

  30. The key fault of most educational games, online, board, card, or otherwise, is that they undermine the excitement of the topic by “paying” for right answers. I find when I play with students that most games are gift wrapped quizzes. You take a boring quiz and if you get a right answer you get paid. This rewards people and creates the most enjoyment for children who know all the right answers (and therefore don’t need the lesson). Some games interweave the fun of the thinking with the fun of the game. Wrong answers should receive an interesting and varied response, the satisfaction of set completion or the curiosity provocation of knowing a bit more should be built in as the reward system of the game. People spend a lot of time asking SIRI frivolous questions because the wrong answers are smart and interesting.
    I don’t always succeed but I try to reward the games I play with children with something essential to the lesson. For example, if I am teaching phonics, I highlight the beauty of phonics. Work through a few words and your reward is the power to earn letters and create fictional words and invent their meanings, or change your teacher’s names into silly rhyming versions by altering the phonics. Regardless of the technology, the rewards should show something beautiful, powerful, exciting about the skill itself.

  31. You might like to consider looking at the technology driven educational games being developed at GameDesk.:)

  32. Ted talk: http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world.html

    I love Ted talks. I watch 4-5 of them a week….yes, I have no life.

  33. As a high school student myself, I’m inclined to think that commercial games that obviously have tons of advertising, are more appealing as there’s a air of competition around the games themselves. Most of the games are played against other people, not computers, which simulate a desire to win and competition appeals to people. Educational games are not exactly designed with the idea of competition in mind, which adding to the educational factor, makes it a very tedious subject. I really enjoyed this post and you brought up an interesting topic.

  34. Whoa, just found this! Great topic.

    No consolidated opinion at the moment, but I think there’s something going on with this scenario: Parent on the couch, kiddo on lap, sharing a tablet. Parent is guiding the experience but following the attention of kiddo; nudging a learning loop along by asking questions and occasionally providing answers.

    It’s how I’ve bent my 4-year old son’s interest in plants vs zombies into him learning 3-digit numbers, and (maybe I’m pushing it here) to think about resource management and long-term impact of decisions.

    I’m not a teacher, but I do believe in using what’s available. Part of that equation is attention and interest. If educational games suck, how could we use the games that don’t suck to teach? How would you use angry birds to teach physics? Or is that too obvious?

    Of course, I hope my kids try out oregon trail and carmen sandiego at some point. I haven’t given up on educational games actually being fun.

  35. I think that the days of boring educational games are over. Considering the number of apps and ads for online games that I see on google, I think game developers are soon catching on that technology is the way forward? I mean, try getting your kids away from the computer, video games or the mobile. In that respect, I recently read that even groups like DreamWorks are jumping on the bandwagon and creating video games for kids that teach science and math etc. Look at School of Dragons , I think it’s an emerging trend and soon a lot of these high quality games will pop up

  36. Your comparison of graphics in educational software vs video games is way off the mark. A better comparison would be comparing educational software graphics to graphics in the alternative, namely textbooks.

  37. P.S. I doubt you will ever make learning as “interesting to teens and preteens”, or to adults for that matter, as entertainment. So what else is new? The whole “learning must be fun” approach is the problem. America is doomed if it can’t overcome this weakness. Learning can be hard work and young people need to be made to understand this. But if they are also made to understand the payoff for themselves and for society, and if their parents instill discipline and a work ethic, then there is hope.

    Another aspect of educational software is that if it is well done, and only if, then it can be much better than the average teacher.

    Obviously, there is a lot of rubbish educational software, just as there are many rubbish textbooks and rubbish games. So the point is to make better educational software. Not by making the graphics more like Call of Duty or making the program as thrilling as Starcraft, but by making the program an effective way to learn for motivated students. The unmotivated students are hopeless anyway. Forget about them. (My, how politically incorrect I am.)

  38. Most educational games aren’t useful because the kid doesn’t invest much emotionally in the game. Although I agree with what someone said earlier that some Game Desk games can be quite good

  39. The graphics question is certainly compelling, particularly when faced with the visual comparison above; thanks for sharing! I think the second point raised about the learning experience is perhaps the most crucial when it comes to distinguishing the bad from the good. High quality, educational games offer new, stimulating ways of thinking and paths to learning, not the same, familiar routines re-packed in a digital context.

    There’s a great info-graphic available on this topic:

    https://s3.amazonaws.com/infographics/Educational-Video-Games-800.jpg

    Seems like the jury is still out on this issue, but it raises some interesting, engaging points for further consideration – enjoy!

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