Edugames: Making a Teaching Game

Edugames: Making a Teaching Game

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Edugames (also known as learning games and educational games) can be great tools in the classroom, if they meet your needs. But have you ever wondered how these products are created? Some are specifically designed to feature a crucial theme which dictates how the gameplay works, whereas others are originally commercial games that have been adapted into educational formats.

Read on below to learn more about this fascinating genre:

Getting the Science Right

One crucial aspect with edugames is simply getting the science right. After all, what’s the point of even making an educational game if you can’t actually learn anything from it? Several studies have suggested that when done right, games are as great a way of teaching as anything else. So it seems more than likely that learning games are certainly beneficial when they are good - but how are the good ones made?

From the Ground Up: Built to Order

The most straightforward way to approach educational gaming is by acknowledging that is what you are doing from the get-go. After all, many games will not naturally include educational elements unless they are integral to their design. A fantasy adventure game will not suddenly whip out Boolean physics calculations for the player to solve mid-adventure. That same fantasy game can essentially have the same gameplay but still be an edugame, if it is designed that way from the beginning.

A brilliant example is ChemCaper, which is very much a role-playing game in the eastern tradition, but still a fully committed edugame. ChemCaper achieves this by utilizing a world where absolutely everything is designed based on the game’s educational theme, chemistry: all characters represent elements and combat revolves around chemical reactions.

ChemCaper Header.jpg

Converting Existing Properties

Even if educational games are easiest to create from the ground up, adapting existing properties is also possible. At their best, these educational “conversions” of sorts combine the production values of commercial games with thrilling educational contents and tools. Success stories include MinecraftEdu, StoriumEdu and KerbalEdu: all prominent games that have become veritable educational powerhouses due to additional tools and slight alterations.

For example, KerbalEdu actually offers more options than the standard commercial version of the game. With these specialized versions, teachers are given tools to track student progress, provide assistance and remain in control of the classroom. The only real drawback with these kind of conversions is that creating them requires professional work and will not realistically be available for every potential game.

Finding Edugames

What about the process of finding a game that is suitable for you? The easiest way is to utilize services which curate and prepare such content (you might not be surprised at all that we offer a free trial of our TeacherGaming Desk, the one-stop service for all things educational gaming).

Of course, nothing is stopping you from finding games on your own and creating lessons based on them. While you are likely to be perfectly capable of doing just that, it is a time-consuming endeavor and requires commitment to reading about, playing and preparing content based on games. While this can seem daunting, many educational games actually rely on teacher participation: one of the strengths of MinecraftEdu was and is the ability for teachers to share content they’ve created with the game’s world library, allowing their colleagues to utilize ready-to-go worlds in their teaching.

The Good, the Bad, the Undetermined

We’ve written previously on how to tell if an educational game suits your classroom needs. Truth is, the only real way to know is to try the game out with your class! Still, positive reviews and recommendations from your colleagues are important indicators on whether or not a game has the educational content you are looking for. Though it is not absolutely necessary - especially if you’re using a curated service - trying out a game yourself is also a really good way to know of its learning potential.