Educational (but still awesome) Games

19 Nov

I love memories of elementary.  Safety Patrol, raising your hand in the cafeteria before you are excused for recess, read-a-thons, routine lice checks, classroom guinea pig pets named Howie that suddenly disappear and then reappear a week later with suspiciously different markings.  And so forth.  Well, if you grew up in the late 80’s or 90’s, you will also likely remember going to the computer lab for “educational” games.  Thanks to Twitter, I recently found this list of the Top 10 Educational Games from an Educational Games blog. This is my take on the list. 


Oregon Trail:  Actually developed by Apple.  Did you know that? I didn’t.  Now, Apple’s wild success makes a little more sense.  With a game like the Oregon Trail as your spring board, it would be pretty hard to mess things up.  The Educational Game Blog claims it taught us that resource management can be fun.  Resource management?  That is not quite how I remember it.  On the contrary…I distinctly remember being instructed to hunt until no more deer would come on your screen.  The goal of this was to A: Shoot things, B: Shoot things, C: Kill way more meat than the game would allow you to carry in your wagon.  I also learned that moderation is overrated.  If you chose a logical speed, and allowed time for rest and food there IS NO WAY you would ever finish the whole trail during computer time.  A much more fun way to play:  Make your wagon go as fast as possible, never stop, do not care for sick or injured family members, and see how far you can get before everyone dies.  I once knew this kid who played 3 whole games in one computer time session using this method.  Seriously.  He was sort of a demi-god.

Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?:  This game was OK.  The TV show was much cooler.  Although, I vividly remember becoming extremely disenchanted by the contenstants’ apparent lack of geographical knowledge.  “No! Brazil is the big red one!”  I would yell at the bright eyed (and obviously undeserving) child trying to stick flags in the appropriate part of the world for the final round.

Sim City:  Good game.  If you have the patience for it.  If that was the game’s goal, it failed horribly with me.  Waiting for my city to develop an adequate tax base to build my megaopolis?  No thanks.  Finding out cheat codes for free money?  Yes please.  Once the city was built, the fun was over.  It was now time to figure out how to increase the frequency and devastation levels of natural disasters.

Reader Rabbit:  I don’t really remember this one.  If I did, this is probably what I would remember:  Reader Rabbit was fun.

Math Blaster:  Although this game was a lot of fun, it is undoubtedly responsible for uncharacteristically high anxiety levels among young children.  Why?  When Jean Luc Picard saw something off the starboard bough, he simply commanded Worf to fire.  In Math Blaster, in order to destroy the enemy, you have to remember your times tables.

Lemonade Stand:  The Educational Games Blog gets it right:

“..potentially complex and hard to understand concepts like economic theory…”

That is EXACTLY how I remember it.   “Just let me sell some stupid lemonade.  PLEASE?  Mrs.  Williams??? How do I make it let me sell lemonade??”

Number Munchers:  I loved this game.  The little monster was cool.  This game also represents my first memory of rebellion.  A friend convinced that it would be a good idea to put “a swear” as my name.  What he didn’t tell me is that my name would be on the top of the screen FOR THE REST OF COMPUTER TIME, and that the teacher would see it, not buy my lie that I accidentally wrote it, and that I would end up losing my computer privileges for the week. 

For the rest of the Top Ten list see the post on the educational games blog.


One Response to “Educational (but still awesome) Games”

  1. Andrea Mitchell March 6, 2009 at 4:18 am #

    I LOVED SIM CITY and Oregon Trail~ GOOD TIMES!!!

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