Educational video game
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An educational video game is a video game that provides educational value to the player. Edutainment describes an intentional merger of video games and educational software into a single product (and could therefore also comprise more serious titles described above under children’s learning software). In the narrower sense used here, the term describes educational software which is primarily about entertainment, but tends to educate as well and sells itself partly under the educational umbrella. Software of this kind is not structured towards school curricula, does not normally involve educational advisors, and does not focus on core skills such as literacy and numeracy.
There can be also defined strategy war games that include historical references like the Total War franchise or the Age of Empires trilogy and an in-game encyclopaedia like Civilization. These games often combine entertainment and education but without being explicitly educational.
These are games which were originally developed for adults or older children and which have potential learning implications. For the most part, these games provide simulations of different kinds of human activities, allowing players to explore a variety of social, historical and economic processes.
- City-building games such as the SimCity series and Caesar (1993–2006) invite players to explore the social, practical and economic processes involved in city management;
- Empire-building games such as the Civilization series (1991–2005) and the Europa Universalis series (2000–2013) help players to learn about history and its political, economic and military aspects;
- Railroad management games such as Railroad Tycoon (1990–2003) and Rails Across America (2001) illuminate the history, engineering and economics of railroad management.
- Geography games such as PlaceSpotting (2008–2009) help players to find locations on earth according to some hints.
The games have been enthusiastically received in some educational circles and are mentioned into academic literature..
Many titles were developed and released from the mid-1990s onwards, aimed primarily at the home education of young children. Later iterations of these titles often began to link educational content to school curricula such as England's National Curriculum. The design of educational games for home use has been influenced by gaming concepts – they are designed to be fun and educational.
The following are examples of children's learning software which have a structured pedagogical approach, usually orientated towards literacy and numeracy skills.
- Disney Interactive learning titles based on characters such as Winnie-the-Pooh, Aladdin, The Jungle Book and Mickey Mouse
- GCompris, contains numerous activities, from computer discovery to science
- Knowledge Adventure’s JumpStart and Blaster Learning System series
- The Learning Company’s Reader Rabbit, The ClueFinders and Zoombinis series.
In 1983, the term "edutainment" was used to describe a package of software games for the Oric 1 and Spectrum Microcomputers in the UK. Dubbed "arcade edutainment" an advertisement for the package can be found in various issues of "Your Computer" magazine from 1983. The software package was available from Telford ITEC a government sponsored training program. The originator of the name was Chris Harvey who worked at ITEC at the time.
Since then, many other computer games such as Electronic Arts computer game Seven Cities of Gold, released 1984, have also used the term edutainment to describe their product. Most edutainment games seek to teach players using a game based learning approach. Criticism as to what video games can be considered "educational" has led to the creation of Serious games whose primary focus is to teach rather than entertain.
Psychologist Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen researched the educational use and potential of computer games and has written many articles on the subject. One paper dealing specifically with Edutainment breaks it down into 3 generational categories to separate the cognitive methods most predominantly used to teach. In his papers he is critical of the research that has been done in the areas of the educational use of computer games cited their biases and weaknesses in method causing them to lack scientific validity in their findings.
- List of educational video games
- Video game behavioral effects
- Video games in education
- Educational software