Video Games that Make Learning Fun
Video games are at the center of the gamification of education. While this movement to make learning more engrossing and engaging for a new generation focuses on changes away from the screen, video games remain a fun way to help build understanding and practice skills. Amazingly, some of the greatest examples can be acquired for under $20 making them affordable additions to the classroom or the home. Here are some of the best video games that make learning fun.
Civilization Series (PC, Mac, Linux, Mobile, Consoles)
Sid Meier’s Civilization games play like gigantic games of Risk, but rather than focusing solely on military conquest, the Civilization games factor in elements like culture, science, commerce, and social policy to complicate global relations. The genius of the series comes in the way these complicated systems all interact and interrelate in ways the player can easily follow, understand, and manipulate. In the process, the player learns first-hand about the intricacies of international relations and global economies. For the uninitiated, the Civilization Revolution versions of the games are available across numerous gaming consoles and mobile devices; they are certainly the most easily accessible of the bunch. With Civilization VI newly released as of 2017, expect to find the previous versions available at steep discounts.
At first glance, The Zoombinis looks like little more than a bunch of blueberries in sneakers. Under the surface is a deeply entertaining and engrossing adventure game peppered with a wide range of puzzles and challenges to solve. These challenges span a wide range of logic, data analysis, and problem solving skills that focus on higher-level thinking. While including this as a math game may seem like a stretch, the higher-order problems promote habits of mind that translate directly to improved engagement with the more complex math standards of today.
English / Language Arts
My Word Coach (Wii, DS)
My Word Coach is an engrossing game that somehow manages to make the mundane process of expanding vocabulary fun. The game works similarly to the fitness games like Wii Fit which were all the rage a decade ago; the player is competing against him or herself to improve their skills rather than a quest for high scores or a win-loss record. Adults and children alike can benefit from the wide array of words included in the game, however the difficulty skews slightly older than the honorable mentions listed below. Conveniently, the games can be found new or used fairly inexpensively due to their age. For an added challenge, try one of the foreign language offerings and work towards becoming multilingual!