Game Over: Remembering the Good Ol’ Days of Educational Computer Games

 

An excellent paper published by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center has tracked the rise and fall of the educational games that everyone of a certain age (read: current 18 to 30- year-olds, roughly speaking) remembers so fondly. I’m speaking, of course, of the classics: Math Blasters, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, and my personal favorite, Oregon Trail. The paper does a great job tracking the factors that put those games in every computer lab in every middle school in America and, similarly, the forces that pushed educational games back to the fringe status of “games Grandma buys you for Christmas because she just doesn’t know better” that they currently occupy.

Now, I went to middle school in the 90s, a decade or more after these games first appeared. And I still played Oregon Trail every single day during the winter, when it levitra vs viagra rained too much to go play outside. Additionally, I can safely say that I did not learn a single thing about any actual Oregon Trailers, unless you count the fact that even if you shoot every buffalo on earth, you can only carry 200 pounds of jelly oral kamagra meat back to your wagon. I don’t think this experience was terribly different with any of the educational games I, or any of my classmates, played. If you were good at math, you were good at Math Blasters—the game alone would not teach you the intricacies of, say, fraction

multiplication. To that end, it doesn’t necessarily surprise me that the educational software market wasn’t sustainable, particularly once every computer had the internet and games many times more fun than the educational stuff could be found with three clicks of a mouse.

As we gradually march towards a world where every person on earth has a smartphone in their pocket, however, the educational game discussion is coming back to life, particularly in the context of designing mobile games. We’ve written before about gaming in the classroom and the potential benefits it can have, so it is interesting to see the Joan Ganz paper offer suggestions about the importance of marketing and distribution (perhaps the buzzwords of mobile gaming) before any viagra substitute talk of content or managing expectations of results. Clearly, there are lots of opportunities in educational gaming, and whoever figures it out first stands to do very well for themselves. For the time being, it seems like there is lots to be done.

Funnily enough, a year or two ago I downloaded the iOS version of The Oregon Trail, and was thoroughly disappointed in what the franchise had become. Maybe the golden age of Oregon Trail is already behind us, http://onlinepharmacy-levitra.com/ dead and gone like all of the virtual buffalo I shot as a kid on those rainy winter days.


Tristan Kruth

AE at TriplePoint PR and occasional contributor at Technapex. I'm particularly interested in video games and education, taking on arguments that don't make a lot of sense, and non-traditional ways of teaching people things.

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About Tristan Kruth

AE at TriplePoint PR and occasional contributor at Technapex. I'm particularly interested in video games and education, taking on arguments that don't make a lot of sense, and non-traditional ways of teaching people things.