Education technology is so often relegated to the realm of education software, whose primary purpose is to teach in a way similar to classrooms. When it comes to gaming, you’d almost think it’s shocking to even dream that the two – education and gaming – could ever be related. After all, video games are responsible for zombifying children and are the bane of any parent who wants their kids to have good grades, right? Wrong. Gaming requires and builds a number of different desirable traits in children and adults – such as problem-solving, increased empathy, concentration and cooperativeness – that can be used in a constructive capacity throughout life. Moreover, games with the overall aim to educate are already widely available.
It’s the perfect combination for educating kids (and adults) while keeping them entertained and focused. These types of games are also more widely accessible than they’ve ever been before, thanks in large part to the proliferation of reliable web providers, indie game developers, and platforms such as Steam. Together, these have formed a rich gaming composite from which to develop high-quality games. But which are the most educational? We’ll take a look at some noteworthy examples below.
For the budding chemist in all of us, Sokobond is a clever and compelling puzzle game that combines the creativity of problem-solving with the beauty of science. The game revolves around creating chemical compounds through the strategic movements of certain molecules. Each level is more difficult than the last, requiring players to think abstractly in order to solve the puzzle while learning about chemical bonds, elements and how they work at the same time.
Portal 2 might not just be the best puzzle game of all time, it might simply be the best game of all time. Delightfully funny, witty, challenging and above all informative, Portal 2 puts the player in the boots of a test subject in a malfunctioning facility that experiments with weird new technologies – one of which is a portal gun. It’s a beautifully simple concept. The gun allows the player to open a blue portal and an orange portal, which are then interconnected; if something goes through one portal it comes out the other. The game explores the multitude of different ways in which puzzles can be created and solved within this world and based on these mechanics and devices. It’s fun, hilarious and requires some logical thought to progress from start to finish.
Civilization is a game (and a series of games) that simulates the rising and falling of civilizations. It allows the player to build up a culture and economy, starting from the dawn of civilization and continuing to present times and beyond. The player is able to manipulate and determine what technology, culture and civics a certain people should develop. It also requires the player to engage in diplomacy with other nations, a crucial part of the game if the player’s civilization is to thrive and avoid all-out warfare. It teaches players not only about the various different cultures and cities that exist in the world, but about democracy, warfare, politics, geography, history and critical thinking.
Ever wish you could explore the stars from the comfort of your own home? Star Chart lets you do just that. It’s a virtual reality simulation that occurs in real-time, allowing players to navigate the solar system and beyond, compare the size of planets and stars, pick out constellations and become lost and awe-struck in the vastness of the universe. It’s not only a game, but an example of how virtual reality can be used as a learning and exploratory tool.
If you’ve ever wanted to educate your young ones about the dangers of global warming and climate change, then Cleanopolis is the way forward. It’s another VR game that tasks the player with ridding the city of Cleanopolis of its harrowing CO2 cloud. It’s a fun little game full of mini-games and puzzles and a treasure trove of information when it comes to enlightening youngsters about global warming.