Often, teachers will use what is known as “educational games,” which attempt to teach certain concepts while being entertaining at the same time.
There are a lot of fun games out there that are also educational! Here’s a look at 10 of the best examples of educational games.
As long as the concept of school has existed, teachers and educators have tried to find ways to make kids and adults alike more engaged with the learning material. Often, teachers will use what is known as “educational games,” which attempt to teach certain concepts while being entertaining at the same time. Unfortunately, many educational games can often fail to educate at all while also being unfun to play.
Luckily, this isn’t the case for all games; some are expertly crafted to balance learning, motivation, and fun, while others are made to be entertaining and happen to teach valuable lessons and info along the way. For those looking to sharpen their instincts and strengthen their brain pathways, these ten games are anything but a waste of time.
10. Kerbal Space Program
This space flight simulation game from Private Division is beloved by many, especially those who learned valuable lessons about space and shuttlecraft composition from playing it. Many aspects of Kerbal Space Program are accurate to real life, including its orbit simulation, use of fuel and acceleration, and how structural stability works in the game.
The goal of the game is building spacecrafts, testing their capacities, and eventually flying them into space to achieve the Kerbals’ dream of space travel. The game has an also-successful sequel, Kerbal Space Program 2, which is also worth checking out.
9. Hearts Of Iron IV
Hearts of Iron IV is a grand strategy game focused on World War II and the time period between 1936-1950. Players can play as any country/nation in the world, allowing for high replayability and variety. The educational element is the authenticity, which players can choose to follow or not. By setting the game to “Historical Focus” mode, the AI will do its best to follow accurate historical paths, allowing for a genuinely educational gaming experience. Players will also learn about the ranks and intricacies of naval, aerial, and ground divisions of various military forces of nations.
8. Shenzhen I/O
Shenzhen I/O is a unique puzzle game that coding hopefuls will find fun and a good first taste into the overall atmosphere of coding in general. Set in the near future, players control a recent immigrant who has moved to Shenzhen to work for Shenzhen Longteng Electronics. The gameplay involves creating products by making circuits and writing the code in order to run them.
What makes the game have educational elements is how the programming language in the game is similar to assembly language. Furthermore, the circuit elements are similar, simpler versions of electronics found in the real world. Players can even make their own challenges in the game by writing Lua scripts, a legitimate programming language.
7. Universe Sandbox 1 + 2
The Universe Sandbox series is an interactive space gravity simulator and a fantastic teacher of the complexities of the universe. Though it’s designed to be educational software, it has no lack of fun, as players can run massive simulations on galaxies (including the Milky Way), control the gravity and time, and take control of planets, comets, and even black holes. The depth in which this game goes into is astounding, especially so for its sequel which was released in 2017.
Simulations can be either realistic or fictional, depending on what the player wishes, and can visualize predictions of future events such as the collision of Andromeda and the Milky Way (which is a long 3 and a half billion years away.) If that wasn’t enough, players can also witness constellations, supernovas, and spacecrafts such as Voyager.
6. Rocksmith 2014
For those gamers looking to learn how to play the guitar but don’t know where to start, Rocksmith 2014 is just the perfect fit. It may not be exactly like Guitar Hero, but being able to plug one’s guitar or bass into their console/PC and play along to an educational mini-game certainly captures the appeal that Guitar Hero was going for. Players can choose different development paths for lead, rhythm, and bass guitar, allowing them to learn all three roles often found in a traditional rock band. Plus, the game continued to receive weekly new DLC song packs until April of 2020, which is quite a long lifespan in video game time.
5. The Shivah
Video games are amazing in that they can touch on any topic or present any commentary, so having them teach the benefits and fundamental beliefs of a religion is a great idea that The Shivah is all about. A point-and-click game from 2006, The Shivah’s protagonist is Rabbi Russell Stone, a man who must clear his name when a murder and inheritance point to him as the main suspect.
The Shivah has been compared to other interactive fiction games such as Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney but with more serious themes and more subtle rewards for in its story. This game is an excellent start for those wanting to learn more about Judaism and the nature of morality.
4. Where In The World Is Carmen San Diego?
Perhaps one of the most classic educational games from many people’s childhoods, the original Where In The World Is Carmen San Diego? was released in 1985 for a variety of consoles, including the DOS, Commodore 64, Apple II, and the Sega Master System. Players control a rookie member of the ACME Detective Agency who must track down criminals from the V.I.L.E. organization in order to recover famous works across the globe.
Not only is the potential for education clear in the concept of the game, but using geography to investigate crooks and hunt down stolen artifacts is undeniably fun and rewarding after exerting one’s brain cells. Eventually, the player will even be tasked to take on Carmen Sandiego herself, the leader of V.I.L.E.
3. Animal Crossing: New Horizons
Considering how many people on the planet have played Nintendo’s most recent Animal Crossing title this year, it may come as no surprise that New Horizons is full of accurate and interesting information about real-world species such as bugs and fish.
Players learn about each new species they catch and bring to Blathers, the island museum curator. Plenty of kids and adults alike now know more about sharks and butterflies than they ever did before! Additionally, if players can get their hands on legitimate masterpieces such as the Mona Lisa, they can learn about the artwork from taking a tour and reading the plaques.
2. Portal 2
Besides having some of the best dialogue and characters in video game history, as well as fantastic music and multiplayer co-op puzzle-solving, Portal 2 also has quite a useful educational element that has been utilized in classrooms before. It was part of Valve’s “Steam for Schools” beta program where educators could apply to receive access to Portal 2, a level editor, and a workshop for user-created levels, among other useful tools.
A game like Portal 2 can help students learn about the concepts of physics, spatial reasoning, math, and, of course, problem-solving. The level editor would allow students to practice applied learning and create puzzles of their own that involve some serious brain-crunching and understanding of physics. The whole program was free to educators and paid for entirely by Valve, a generous act since North American teachers are often strapped for funds and resources.
1. Never Alone (Kisima Inŋitchuŋa)
This beautiful puzzle-platformer was developed by Upper One Games and is based on the traditional tale of the Iñupiaq called “Kunuuksaayuka.” Players play through an eight-chapter story while swapping between an Iñupiaq girl named Nuna and her Arctic fox companion. This game is significant in that it was developed in partnership with the Cook Inlet Tribal Council and the game’s publisher, E-Line Media.
Too long have Indigenous people’s stories been told by other people who cannot understand their significance, and such disregard can lead to further pain in a post-colonial society like North America. By creating authentic narratives using collaboration and respect, understanding and compassion can be reached, the first step of many towards a better future for everyone.
Originally published the gamer