The infographic below, created by Knewton, provides a wonderful summary of games in education. The last portion of the graphic is a time line of game development starting with Carmen SanDiego in 1985.
I was in college with Carmen SanDiego was first released for children. Even though I was in my 20s, the game engaged me. I didn’t even mind flipping through an Almanac to improve my odds at catching the thief.
Mavis Beacon was my friendly typing teacher just as I was beginning to use my computer as a word processor. I thought the race car theme was a little odd, but it did make learning the manual skill of typing a bit more interesting.
I never owned Math Blaster, but I played it on the school computers my first year of teaching. I encouraged my students to play it when they had time in the computer lab.
Sim City was my first game that wasn’t designed specifically for the education market. With it’s easy point and click interface, I could spent hours trying to please the residents of my city.
When I could afford to purchase my own computer, I had to go with one that would help me advance in my career. I was working for a publishing company by then and Macs were the only way to go. At that time, Hoyle’s card and puzzle games were the most popular Mac games. With the increased expense of developing visually-rich games, PC game developers didn’t bother to make their games available for the small Mac consumer base. So I don’t have much experience with most of the other games on the time line.
Only in the past decade or so have I started to see a greater availability of games for Macs. I spent many hours in Flo’s Diner Dash world and sourcing ingredients for chocolates in Chocolatier.
Reviewing the games in the time line and my experiences with them, I understand why I am drawn to more direct, task-based games. I find the open, world-exploration, sandbox games frustrating. I need a goal and an achievable task. That has been my overriding experience with games.
In order to develop successful games for the current generation, I need a much broader range of experiences. While Diner Dash and other time-management games are popular, there are many other game types that students experience today. Their expectations of games will be much different from my own.