Why Are Educational Games All Just Brain Training?
THE Journal recently pointed me at a website with free educational games called Brain Games. “Great,” I thought, opening the site. “Perhaps I can use some of these in my undergraduate psychology courses.” But then came the familiar disappointment I feel whenever I look at “educational games”: the same rehashed ideas converted into an online format, many of which were invented at least a century ago. Word Search, Slide Puzzles, Tic Tac Toe. My mind boggles at the creativity displayed!
Of course, if you want online versions of things we’ve had for a hundred years, this is a fantastic site. And there are certainly a few more creative and uncommon variants of the classics, and even a couple of challenging gems. But where are the truly challenging and unique ones, like Light Bot?
And more central to our purposes here, where are the online games that actually teach you useful knowledge or a skill? From my perspective, the games on these web sites aren’t educational at all; they are mostly cognitive practice, or in the parlance of the games that began the trend, brain training.
Games motivate players to learn their rule systems and practice learned skills within the world they create, all in the context of fun. What a perfect environment for training and adult education! So why hasn’t it been done? Where are the psychology games? Where are the sales games? What barriers are preventing gaming from taking the education world by storm?
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