Let’s face it; today’s educational games suck. They are strange, trying to merge learning and fun, while inadvertently giving just as much entertainment as slapping your computer with a ham sandwich. And they teach you as much as watching clowns tussle.
There aren’t really any enjoyable educational games for the high school audience. Teens would rather be playing Halo and Angry Birds than Spongebob Squarepants Typing. And who can blame them? Flinging spherical foul into green eggs and ham is much more fun than typing your way to 60 words per minute.
Schools discourage and, in some cases, ban gaming on the campus or in class. Now this is fine; it is completely acceptable to remove things from the school that would distract from student learning.
But many students own iPhones and do play games on them during non-instructional time, and, for the more brazen, during class.
Gaming is not a bad thing. However, currently, gaming is used solely for entertainment reasons (except for the horrible educational ones).
Unconventional situations could be used to incorporate education into the gaming world.
Now let’s say you were captured by a dragon and locked in a cell, waiting to be eaten by said flying monster. You have just finished your meal of goblin meat and mashed beans, and you have a spoon. You can say to yourself, “Oh, this spoon’s sole purpose is to aid in eating. It would be terribly improper to use it to escape certain doom!” Or you can save yourself and have a cool story about how you eluded being eaten by using an eating utensil.
TV also used to be in a non-educational setting, until schools started incorporating them in classrooms to show educational films. Schools can utilize a similar technique to assimilate gaming into the educational experience. Companies can market decent games for learning and make bulk deals with schools.
A good example of an educational game that teens might actually want to play is a strategy game that is historically accurate. It could follow, say, the events of World War II and have battles in the game that actually happened in real life. That way, students could play a fun game with a story plot that actually happened.
Another approach would be to use an addicting pay-to-play format of gaming (think Angry Birds), but replace the use of actual money with virtual tokens. Tokens can be acquired by correctly answering questions. This would be better for subjects like math that are more question-oriented.
And it doesn’t stop there! Action-puzzle games can use scholastic subjects for puzzles in-game. Imagine a game like The Legend of Zelda where dungeons involve challenges in which the player must predict the outcomes of chemical reactions to progress or obtain a new item. They should be paying me to come up with these ideas.
The great thing about this idea is that it is incredibly flexible. Players could insert what subjects they want to learn in the game, then the appropriate problems can be placed in the game.
If schools and gaming companies listen to Luke by taking a cue from how TV merged with scholastics, schools will become more interactive, gaming companies will get money, and students will thank me for years. Students of the future, you’re welcome.