Educational Video Games
After personal computers became wide-spread devices, many teachers and video game designers have seen the potential of educational video games as learning material. Since video games are much easier to attract interests, especially for younger ages, this idea grew quite quickly amount the innovative academists and video game designers. Since then many successful examples of such educational video games were released. The Learning Company’s Super Solver’s series, or Carmen Sandiego series were just some well-known examples to these video game types in the past. These educational video games taught children about reading, math, the world, and the sciences through the use of video games mechanics.
Today, these type of educational video games are often referred to as “edutainment” video games, a hybrid of education and entertainment.
Some educational video games can teach skills without openly being educational. For example, The Oregon Trail, an old game which was quite popular at its time, informed people about the history of the Oregon Trail and settling in the West. Skills like economics, resource management, time management, math, history, and biology are fundamentals for many simulation games. Some other video games use basic principles of surviving in nature as game mechanics. Players can improve their related skills by playing those type of games as educational video games maybe even without knowing it.
Although many people would find strange in the past, nowadays there are many supporters of the topic. In fact, the “Edutainment” concept gained so much support that at the moment there is an experimental school to research and develop the idea. Named “Quest to Learn” is a controversial school for students grades 6 to 12 where the education is entirely based on educational video games and other 21st century literacies.
Contrary to the general conception, video games can also help adults and even elders. There are educational video games which you can use to improve your typing skills or keep your memory and math skills sharp.
Similarly, there are many examples of video games that you can use to learn or practice foreign languages. These educational video games help foreign language learners to acquire new vocabulary and practice the new words they learn via matching games.
The concept of education through video games also can help to fight the lack of education in developing countries. Essential devices like the computer One Laptop Per Child organization handed out in the past can be used to educate children by using educational video games. One Laptop Per Child organization pre-installed its computers with such games on fundamentals of education during the project.
The Education Arcade is another organization that helps the concept evolve. Education Arcade was established by well-known names from both video game industry and education experts. The company claims that the focus of its research and development projects is on natural learning which happens in video games, and on the video game design methods to provide players with more educational benefits. Their mission is to show the world how much potential educational video games have in teaching.
In short, video games are not only for child play and time wasting. There are social, cultural, and educational benefits that videogames can provide. But there is a need for video game designers who develop educational video games. With the help of new game development projects with educational features, “edutainment” video games can pervade the market.