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 sometimes described 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. Normally software of this kind is not structured towards school curricula and does not involve educational advisors.


There can be also defined strategy war games that include historical references, like the Total War franchise or the Age of Empires trilogy and an in-game encyclopaedia like Civilization.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 integrate education 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 (1991–2013) and the Europa Universalis series (2000–2014) 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.[1].

A new category was recently started by Bot Colony (2013), that can be used to practice English dialogue by conversing with intelligent robots as part of an adventure game [1]


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.

Examples of children's learning software which have a structured pedagogical approach, usually orientated towards literacy and numeracy skills.


In September 1983 the Boston Phoenix reported that "edutainment" games were a new focus area for companies after end of growth of the Atari 2600 software market.[2] 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's Seven Cities of Gold, released 1984, have also used edutainment as a descriptive term. Most edutainment games seek to teach players by employing a game-based learning approach. Criticism as to which 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.[3] He is critical of the research that has been done on the educational use of computer games, citing their biases and weaknesses in method, which cause their findings to lack scientific validity.

In Education[edit]

Games provide structure to problem-solving. This allows a player to “fail up”, meaning that with the combination of challenging and fun, the student will want to continue to persist on that problem until it is solved. It is a productive failure. This may take quite a few times before success is reached, but progress is obtained each time and so is knowledge on how to solve that problem. Iteration and discovery become two major aspects to learning through game playing. Many students have a “sweet spot” for gaming, which allows gaming in education to be successful in terms of grasping concepts, while this can be more difficult through the use of a book. Students may not even realize that they are learning through a game. Games need to include novelty. Unexpected occurrences and challenging choices allow the player to want to keep playing. Having a story or narrative in the game is what can really suck a player into the game. It allows for continuous feedback and challenges at the right level of difficulty, while avoiding frustration.

When developing successful learning games for the classroom, it can be a challenging task. In order for the game to show achievement in student learning, the games should hold certain qualities. The development of successful games to promote learning requires attention to opposing factors. Creativity and inventiveness is needed to help the outcome work well and run smoothly. Games should take the opposite approach of drill-and-practice principles, as this simplifies the games and limits the domains of knowledge. The three factors to keep in mind when designing strong and successful games are integration, motivation, and focus. In order for the player to progress in the game, they must master the learning goals and objectives behind the game. The game should be integrated with learning goals. In the content that needs to be taught through the game, it should be made a point that in order to succeed in the game, is to know the information, which creates importance to the player. The game needs to be as motivating as possible and should pose a challenge. The primary activity of the game should be interacting and interesting to the students. Games are about decision making, where you see what the consequences are and what feedback you receive. Games teach students about rewards, but that it takes some work to receive those rewards. The actions within the game need to be relevant to life outside the game, so learning can occur. Focus can most successfully occur when one is learning by exploring, operating, or interacting.

Teachers are using games more regularly that focus on a wide variety of objectives, while exposing students to more game genres and devices. There is much more structure, which makes it a lot easier for the teacher, and the students enjoy it. Students have become so fluent with the use of online tools. Learning data can be generated from the use of online games, which allow the teacher to have insight on the knowledge the children have obtained, and what needs improvement; this can then help a teacher with their curriculum and teaching.

See also[edit]