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More Thoughts From Me #52: Play & Learn

This More Thoughts From Me is about Edutainment games. You can and should learn from video games. Its great to have a fun game that has  an entertaining story. We all want that escape from reality. Fun is important. But why can’t you, sometimes at least, have fun and learn something too?

Most people seem to think of Edutainment as a genre for kids. Many of these games are, in fact, designed for little kids. Some, such as Brain Age, are designed for casual gamers. And while games like Brain Age can be neat and fun in small doses, they just don’t engage people for very long. A lot of Edutainment games miss out on an important part of gaming: the gameplay must be good and engage the audience. In other words, the gameplay of Edutainment games should be just as good and interesting as a regular game. Maybe I should give you an example of what I’m talking about. Yes, there is a game out that there that does exactly what I’m talking about!

Never Alone is a download game that appeared on the Wii U eshop and has been on other platforms too. The game tells a unique story based on the Alaskian tribe of Native Americans called the Iñupiat. The lore of the tribe moves the story and the gameplay forward. And the gameplay of Never Alone is a fun combination of platforming and puzzle solving. Plus, if you want to know more about the lore in the game, you can watch videos that go more in-depth into the culture of the Iñupiat. Never Alone is the type of game that I’m talking about when I say that Edutainment should be more than just about learning. But why do we ever need this type of game you say? Isn’t gaming just about fun?

I think a game like Never Alone shows gaming can be about more than just fun. Games that teach and are fun too should be around because we all could use a dose of learning to go with our fun. We can’t just rely on the same types of games over and over. The gaming industry, Nintendo included, tends to get into ruts and we as gamers follow along like sheep. We need to expand our minds and expand what video gaming is. Not just for our own self-improvement but for the self improvement of the gaming industry too. We need to show non-gamers that video games can be more than just violent adult games and family friendly games.

What if developers could make games that have you visiting history and learning actual history as you go? There could be a war game that actually provides background on important events or a platformer/action game that shows a unique culture and/or a different part of the world like Never Alone. I’m sure there are other ways for people to learn new languages, math, science, even about litertuare and art that no one has ever thought of. Edutainment needs to combine everything that is great about videos games and everything that is great about learning.

All it will take is creative developers and a lot of research. I know that we can’t learn all the time. We need fun breaks from reality. However, I believe that we should try to find ways to include some learning here and there with our gaming.

So what do you think about Edutainment? What kinds of games would you like to see in the genre? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Next week: My first impressions of Dragon Quest 8 for 3DS. I get the game this week. I can’t wait to play it! What do I think about this version of the game? You’ll find out next week!

More Thoughts From Me is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed here are mine and mine alone. I hope you found this installment of More Thoughts interesting and it gave you some food for thought.


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blank Daniel Fugate has wanted to be a writer since he was seven years old. He has a bachelor's degree in English and he's a huge Animal Crossing fan. The Wii U and 3DS are currently his favorite video game systems!

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Twitter: @df2506