Aardman Digital has released several very good Flash games in recent months. Home Sheep Home is great fun, but isn't really all that relevant to educational games so I'm not going to spend any time talking about it.
Their most recent game Sprocket Rocket, was created to teach about the various functions of the the UK Patent and Trademark office. The game features the eccentric inventor Wallace, and his patient assistant Gromit, from Aardman's famous and award-winning animated Wallace & Gromit films Players get a crash-course in intellectual property law by flying their little steam-powered rocket pod around a map and collecting little stickers that reveal small snippets of information about copyright, trademarks and patents. The way the game delivers the educational content isn't that impressive, but the way the game gets players to care about that content definitely is!
Do you need a fun way of teaching kids the basics of the physics and engineering principles behind bridge-building? You may not have to commission your own game, because a lot of that is covered by a fun new casual game called Cargo Bridge. Cargo Bridge is similar to Lemmings , in that you take the roll of powerful caretaker who must keep a group of creatures with no sense of self-preservation alive. In this case, you've got a handful of workers who need to collect precariously laid crates, elephants, and safes, and bring them back to their base. The way you allow your workers to succeed is by using your bridge-building skills. The game uses a physics engine to simulate the physics of bridges. You have a certain budget that you can use to buy walkways and supports, and you have to place them so that they support each other. You might be very surprised when you start out to see your bridge design isn't up to code. When an unstable bridge is created, it might fall apart under its own weight as soon as you start a level, or it might be a little more stable, and not collapse until your workers are trying to use it to move heavy crates.
Welcome to Games Can Teach. My name is Joe Rheaume, and I'm a designer and programmer of educational games. The purpose of this blog is give you some practical examples of how games can be used as educational tools.
I thought I’d begin with an example any casual game designer probably knows by now.
No one reads the instructions. You need a tutorial!
There are so many free casual games out there, that you'd better make sure any player trying out your game for the first time is having fun as soon as possible. Why should they spend the time to read about how to play if they're not totally sure the game is worth it? Even if they do try to read the instructions, chances are that not much is going to sink in. They see a big wall of text, and they have no context, because they haven't tried the game yet. Instant Cognitive Overload.