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"Engage Me or Enrage Me" - Marc Prensky (2005)
"Never play a video game that's trying to teach you something." - Justin Peters (2007)
Terms like educational games, game-based gaming, and social impact games don't sound too bad. But, Serious Games sounds awful! I mean, who wants to get serious about playing games (I want to relax and have some fun!)? The name itself is capable of killing the joy of playing games before even wanting to. I suppose some innovative name rebranding could help to facilitate and globalize the idea of using games to facilitate the (formal) learning process. Though, I think the term 'Edutainment' is quite good. My favorite would probably be EduGames. But, I believe we have yet to discover an attractive term for educational gaming that reach the 'Yummy' factor.
Anyway, this post is not about attacking or supporting the idea of EduGames to facilitate Higher Learning. There are tons of articles out there (Google it!) talking about the potential of EduGames (e.g. Game-Based Learning: How to Delight and Instruct in the 21st Century - Joel Foreman). Although many articles and papers talk about EduGames, they often don't include a comprehensive directory or list of juicy free EduGames. So, this post will skip all the theoretical Mambo-Jumbo, and link you right to the juice (that I have managed to discover!).
In short, this article (or post) is about exploring and discovering free educational games that could be useful to embed within or across courses (and programs) to spark more engagement, challenge, mystery, exploration, collaboration, problem-solving, decision making, imagination, fun and thinking into the learning process.
But, before we explore 102 EduGames! Here are a few online resources that you might want to explore first (Macro-level):
- Educational Games Research
Research and discussion concerning instructional video games.
- Serious Games Initiative
Is focused on uses for games in exploring management and leadership challenges facing the public sector.
- Serious Games
A web portal to serious games news, resources and companies. Its secondary goal is to enable networking between anyone with an interest in serious games.
- Social Impact Games
It is designed as a community resource for all those interested in games with non-entertainment goals. You can find more than 200 educational games here (free, commercial, coming soon, etc).
- The Education Arcade
Represents a consortium of international game designers, publishers, scholars, educators, and policy makers who are exploring the new frontiers of educational media that have been opened by computer and video games.
- 36 Learning Games to Change the World
A great post by Jeff Cobb about 36 educational games out there that are geared towards making a difference in the world.
- The Top 10 Free Educational Video Games
Check it out! If you find the list below overwhelming and stressful, this list is simply wonderful!
- Top 100 Learning Game Resources If you are already developing learning games, or interested to know more about this field, this great collection of links will for sure broaden your horizons.
102 FREE EDUGAMES!
Initially, I wanted to compile an EduGame list, which included metadata, categories, chunking, screenshots, and tags. But, then I kind of realized it would require a lot more work from me, and less thinking and effort from you to find something useful. In other words, it would minimize the challenge and discovery aspect of finding what you want in the list (if there!). It would take way the challenge and might even hinder you from finding what you are looking for (especially, if my categorization and tagging is poor!). Yes, it would take away the gameplay challenge of mystery, suspense, joy, exploration, fun and incidental learning. "WHATEVER! Just get on with it!"
Here are 102 FREE EduGames that sounds and looks interesting for formal or informal learning (Haven't tried all yet!):
When you play a game at Gwap (e.g. ESP Game), you aren't just having fun. You're helping the world become a better place. By playing their games, you're training computers to solve problems for humans all over the world.
- WFP Foodforce
Understand world hunger and efforts to alleviate it.
- Virtual U
Is a management education game, a simulation of a university, in which the user takes the role of a university administrator. It is designed to foster better understanding of management practices in American colleges and universities.
Experience historical incentives for the American Revolution from the grassroots level.
- Discover Babylon
Uses sophisticated video gaming strategies and realistic digital environments to engage the learner in challenges and mysteries that can only be solved through developing an understanding of Mesopotamian society, business practices, and trade.
Is a turn-based strategy game based on the old game Colonization, and similar to Civilization. The objective of the game is to create an independent nation.
Is a Free and Open Source empire-building strategy game inspired by the history of human civilization. The game commences in prehistory and your mission is to lead your tribe from the stone age to the space age.
- Tropical America
A journey to unravel the mysteries of the Americas. Developed in collaboration with Los Angeles artists, teachers, writers and high school students, the game features a bilingual, thematic gameplay, accompanied by an online database of edu-resources.
- Ayiti - The Cost of Life
What is it like to live in poverty? Find out now in this challenging role playing game in which you take responsibility for a family of five in rural Haiti. From UNICEF with Microsoft support.
Is an Interactive Situation Simulation Software (ISSS) that let users experience the 1937 Nanking Massacre personally, when over the course of 6 weeks, over 300,000 civilians were killed by Japanese troops invading the city.
- The History Canada Game
Understand social forces surrounding Canadian history since 1534. Modification of Civilization III
- Road to Revolution Game
Test your knowledge about the American Revolution, and see if you can navigate your way to independence. Every correct answer gets you closer to liberty!
- Conflict Map
In the course of the 20th century, mankind experienced some of the most devastating wars of all times. Where, what, How, When, Why? This map gives you the opportunity to answer these questions. It displays wars with at least 1,000 military battle deaths.
- Prisoners of War
Can people behave as they like during times of war? No, they can't. The Geneva Conventions of written rules and articles make some acts unlawful. Play the prisoners of war game to learn more.
- The Peace Doves
Take on the mission to disarm the world of nuclear weapons! You have eight "Peace Doves" to help you, each able to disarm one of the eight countries possessing nuclear weapons.
- America’s Army
Players are bound by Rules of Engagement (ROE) and grow in experience as they navigate challenges emphasizing team play, loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.
- Stop Disasters
The online game aims at teaching people on how to build safer villages and cities against disasters. Multiple languages. Good teacher resources.
- World Without Oil
An alternate reality event, a serious game for the public good. It invites everyone to help simulate a global oil shock. People participate by contributing original online stories, created as though the oil shock were really happening.
- Real Life Simulations
That let you experience life as, for example, a peasant farmer in Bangladesh, a factory worker in Brazil, a policeman in Nigeria, a lawyer in the US, or a computer operator in Poland, among others.
- 3rd World Farmer
It aims at simulating the real-world mechanisms that cause and sustain poverty in 3rd World countries. In the game, the player gets to manage an African farm, and is soon confronted with the often difficult choices that poverty and conflict necessitate.
- Trade Ruler
Bertil Ohlin, awarded the Prize in Economics in 1977, showed that countries engage in and benefit from trade if their production resources differ from each other. Play the Trade Ruler game to learn more.
- Wasteland Adventure
Time: 3010 AD. After humans destroyed the ecosystem. The earth lost the ability to heal and the environment continues to get worse. The fresh air and clean water are polluted. Just play the game!!!
- Climate Challenge
A game where you are president of the European Nations. You must tackle climate change and stay popular enough with the voters to remain in office.
- Global Warming Interactive
Is a web based multi-user educational game which explores the relationship of global warming to economic, political and science policy decisions (intended for the high school user).
- Quest Atlantis
Help students understand social studies, environmental concerns, current events, and scientific standards.
A cool game to learn vocabulary and help end world hunger by providing rice to hungry people for free (Made possible by the sponsors who advertise on the site).
The aim of the game is to find as many words as possible in the time available. Get the longest word and you'll advance to the next level.
Understand cancer better and develop a positive attitude toward defeating it.
- The POD Game
Dispense drugs and medical advice to people during an emergency. Using this game, you can enhance your efforts to teach staff and volunteers to work efficiently and sensitively with the public to maximize throughput in times of crisis.
- Deliver The Net Game
Race the sun and hand out as many insecticide-treated bed nets as you can to African families. The more nets you deliver – before the mosquitoes come out – the more lives you save.
- Immune Attack
An educational video game that introduces basic concepts of human immunology to high school and entry-level college students. It aims to excite students about the subject, while also illuminating general principles and detailed concepts of immunology.
- The Immune System Defender
Ilya Mechnikov, inserted a thorn into a larva and noticed strange cells gathering around the thorn. The cells were eating any foreign substances entering the ruptured skin (devouring cells). Play the game to learn more!
- Whack TB (Tuberculosis)
There are almost 9 million new cases of TB each year; about 500,000 of these cases are resistant to the best TB drugs available to fight them. Play this game and learn more about fighting TB!” From the Families USA Global Health Initiative.
The NANOSWARM’s story is set in the year 2030 — a time when there is no war, no crime and no hunger. The reader meets five teenagers interning at MECHS, the world’s leading research center. Each struggles with MECHS’ stringent diet and exercise requirements. Scientists there are on the verge of eradicating all disease when a mysterious infection becomes an epidemic. After one of the interns is stricken, the other teens pilot a miniaturized vessel inside his body to discover the source of outbreak.
- Blood Typing
In this game you have to blood type each patient and give them a blood transfusion.
- Deep Brain Stimulation
Help Dr. Vanessa Mei cut, probe and drill her way to helping her patient cope with a movement disorder through brain surgery!
- Virtual Hip Surgery - Total Hip Replacement Surgery
Take on the role of the Surgeon throughout a hip replacement surgery!
- Virtual Knee Surgery - Total Knee Replacement
Take on the role of the Surgeon throughout a total knee replacement surgery.
- The Ear Pages
Sound is caused by changes of pressure in the air that is transformed into nerve impulses in the inner ear. Explore "The Ear Pages" and collect the snail shaped symbols to gain points in the quiz!
- The Incredible Adventures of the Amazing Food Detective
There has been a mysterious outbreak of unhealthy habits among kids, and we need to solve these cases. All junior food detectives will get secret training on how to eat right and exercise. Have fun playing the game!
- The Food Detectives Fight BAC!
The game gives kids a fun way to learn about foodborne illness. From New Mexico State University.
- Snacktown Smackdown
In this game, the player takes on the identity of a Kid Wisdom "agent" in a race to save the town from the evil Mayor's plans. After gathering healthy snacks for ammo and traversing a treacherous playground, the player must battle three possessed vending machines.
A video game about the politics of nutrition. It explores the relationships between obesity, nutrition, and socioeconomics in the contemporary U.S.
A game to teach tips for water conservation around the home.
Is a multi-player, multi-stakeholder game about solving nitrogen problems. A free single-player (demo) version is available.
- Binary Game (Cisco)
The game teaches strategies related to the binary system, a foundation knowledge used by CCNAs to install, configure and operate networks.
- Plan Your Future Park!
You get to plan your future New York City park, making choices that communities all over the city have been making.
- The Conductive Valley
We have been taught that plastics, unlike metals, do not conduct electricity. However, plastic can, after certain modifications, be made electrically conductive. Play the game to learn more.
Chiral molecules can be used to control or speed up different chemical reactions. In this game you can learn the basic principles of chirality.
- Invar & Steel Alloys
Steel, brass and amalgam are a few examples of an alloy. Invar, from the word "invariable", is a special steel alloy - used today in toasters and CRT-monitors for example. Play the game to learn more.
- Heating Plastics
There are two major groups of plastics - some melt when heated and others don't. Find out why by playing the Heating Plastics Game.
- The Recycler (Transistors)
Shockley, Bardeen and Brattain, the men behind the transistor, were awarded the 1956 Nobel Prize in Physics. Today, transistors are found in virtually every electronic device. Play the recycling game to learn more.
- The Laser Challenge
Laser is used in many areas, such as research, communication, industry, medicine, and environmental care. Learn more about the laser by playing this game.
- Fold It - Solve Puzzles for Science
Is a computer game enabling you to contribute to important scientific research. Foldit uses spare computer time, via a screensaver, to work out how proteins fold. Players use their computers to fold proteins.
- Lord of the Flies
The game is supposed to be played after one has read the book "Lord of the Flies" by William Golding. The aim is to introduce some basic analytical aspects concerning the book and to challenge the reader's memory through play.
- Find the Authors
Among hundreds of letters, the names of Literature Laureates are hidden. Pick a period and search for the authors mentioned on the list beside the puzzle. The names may be written in all directions.
- Arden - World of William Shakespeare
Attain an appreciation of Shakespearean authorship and Elizabethan England. Modification of Neverwinter Nights Diamond.
Is an innovative Real-Time Strategy (RTS) game which reduces micro-management by automatically assigning tasks to units.
- Crash Scene Investigation
Help the highway patrol recreate a deadly crash by examining the evidence and calculating the forces. Use trigonometry, physics, and geometry to figure out what happened at an auto crash scene.
- Airport Security
You’re an airport screener. Can you correctly identify risky items hidden in baggage? Uses actual X-ray images of dangerous devices.
- Bricks or Clicks
You are put in the role of CEO at a traditional toy manufacturer. The company, called ToyBlocks Co., must confront the challenges of launching an online sales channel while managing and maintaining their current traditional sales channels.
Harpooned is a free game for Windows. It is a Cetacean Research Simulator, where you play the role of a Japanese scientist performing research on whales around Antarctica.
- Stop Whaling Game
Steer the Greenpeace inflatable boat around the seas and intercept the dangerous harpoons from the whaling ship. To make the whaling ship stop whaling, you must try and get your activists on board the whaling ship.
Learn about wolf ecology by living the life of a wild wolf in Yellowstone National Park. Play alone or with friends in on-line multiplayer missions, explore the wilderness, hunt elk, and encounter stranger wolves in your quest to find a mate.
- McDonald's Video Game
You’ll discover in this game all the dirty secrets that made McDonald's one of the biggest companies of the world. Interesting stuff man! Multiple languages. Offline version available.
- Corporate Greed
A 3-minute mini-game about the corporate executives accused and/or convicted of greed-related crimes.
- Better Business Games
A basic in-box simulation game from British Telecom about managing social and environmental issues in a business. The player takes on the role of corporate CEO. The games contents are drawn from general business dilemmas across all industries.
- Karma Tycoon
Is a free Online RPG that rocks the gaming world by offering you a thrilling ride through the world of social entrepreneurship as you earn Karma in virtual communities across the US. Teachers curriculum available.
The goal of the game, produced by Box.net, is to use Google shares to buy as many properties as you can without landing in the deadpool and losing your stock. You can download the game in its entirety as a PDF.
Understand variable manipulations for urban management while having fun building a simulated city.
- Virtual Trader - Investment Game (UK)
Virtual Trader is a free Investment Simulation Game, offering its users the opportunity to gain practical experience trading stocks under real market conditions (London Stock Exchange), against their actual and current prices.
- INNOV8 - Business Process Management (BPM) Simulator
Innov8 is a FREE interactive 3D business simulator (Registration required), which takes participants through the entire lifecycle of discovery, collaboration, optimization, and innovation of a fictional company’s business processes.
- eLECTIONS - Your Adventure in Politics
Inspired by the classic board game “The Game of Life,” players will role-play their own virtual candidates running for President.
- My US Rep - Role Play Congress!
This game enables you to play your favorite (or not so) House of Representative and help them become more popular! Based on real voting data, My US Rep allows you to discover your Rep’s hopes and dreams within an engaging game experience.
Provide a student-centered, hands-on environment for exploring various school subjects.
- Hot Potatoes
The Hot Potatoes suite includes six applications, enabling you to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises.
Is based on the popular "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" TV game show. You can customize the questions to what you want. It is written in Java , and can run on any platform that supports Java.
Create your own free educational games, activities and diagrams in a Flash! Host them on your own blog, website or intranet!
- Racing Academy
A racing videogame built on an advanced physics simulation engine. It is intended to support an online community of learners' increased familiarity with engineering concepts, through racing and engineering realistic virtual models of cars.
- Tactical Language and Culture Training Systems
A military-supported language acquisition game. The objective of the project is to develop tools to support individualized language learning, and apply them to the acquisition of tactical languages necessary to accomplish specific missions. The training system enables learners to communicate directly with on-screen characters using a speech recognition interface. The objective is to make the toolset easily applicable to new tactical languages, missions, and training contexts. Developed by USC's CARTE group for DARPA's Darwars Program.
- Global Conflicts: Palestine
The player assumes the role of a freelance journalist who has just arrived in Jerusalem facing challenges. The goal is to create and get an article published for a newspaper by collecting quotes from the dialog in the game. The player can either get information by building up trust with each side or take a more confrontational approach to dig out information. In the end, the story with the most news-value will get the best exposure. The player must be careful what they submit for print, because it will affect their standings with both sides.The game attempts to challenge the player's beliefs and ideas about the conflict. The game has support for educational use with features like an encyclopedia, primary sources, assessment and a teacher's manual.
- Darfur Is Dying
Darfur is Dying is a viral video game for change that provides a window into the experience of the 2.5 million refugees in the Darfur region of Sudan. Players must keep their refugee camp functioning in the face of possible attack by Janjaweed militias. Players can also learn more about the genocide in Darfur that has taken the lives of 400,000 people, and find ways to get involved to help stop this human rights and humanitarian crisis.
- I Can End Deportation (ICED)
As an immigrant teen you are avoiding ICE officers, choosing right from wrong and answering questions on immigration. But if you answer questions incorrectly, or make poor decisions, you will be detained with no respect for your human rights.
- PowerPoint Games (Jeff Ertzberger)
A cool site with a great collection of PowerPoint (Word and Excel, too!) games and game templates for whole class participation and individual student use.
- Brain Tune
It helps you to tune your brain and allows you quickly to remember all the things you wished you could (e.g. dates, places, vocabularies), and uses intelligent ways of asking questions. All catalogs are created by community members of brain-tune.
It’s up to you to provide enough power to meet the energy demands of your city’s 3.9 million people while keeping them prosperous, secure, and living in a clean environment. The implications of the energy decisions you make today for your city in 2015 are based on the current lifestyles and the projected energy demands and costs for developed countries throughout North America, Europe and Asia.
ElectroCity is a new online computer game that lets players manage their own virtual towns and cities. It teaches players about energy, sustainability and environmental management in New Zealand.
The game will help to expand your vocabulary and help children in need while doing so. For every correct answer they will donate .25 cents to children in need.
SimPort is a multiplayer game in which the aim is to develop a new port area in a period of 30 years simulated time.
- Debating the Evidence
The goal of this game is to create a safe environment that encourages students to critically evaluate and discuss scientific evidence in scenarios where social consequences are high and when the evidence is sometimes incomplete or conflicting.
A collection of language learning games with a difference: the player can only progress through collaborating with a learner in a different country. Initially focusing on English and Spanish, it has the potential to be developed for other languages.
Is a new online computer game (social issue game) that lets players plant virtual trees in the country(ies) of their choice. It is great fun to play and teaches players all about the importance of tree planting, forest coverage and carbon offsets.
Are you ready to take on the challenge of running your own virtual city? Do you have the skills to create a solid, sustainable energy strategy? Will you build a nuclear plant or go solar? Whether you are an industrial tycoon or treehugging hippie, join the exclusive EnerCities beta program now. Your citizens need you!
- Catchment Detox
Play Catchment Detox to see if you can repair a damaged river catchment and create a sustainable and thriving economy. It’s an online game where you’re in charge of the whole catchment. You get to decide what activities you undertake – whether to plant crops, log forests, build factories or set up national parks. The aim is to fix environmental problems and provide food and wealth for the population.
Is a fun interactive computer game with a difference. Aimed at young people under 25, it’s a game set in a 3D virtual city with five main activities where players are set the task of reducing the carbon footprint of an average resident. As players work their way through the game they will pick up information about Climate Change, and some of the main ways in which everyone is currently contributing to the emissions of the main greenhouse gas (CO2) that causes Climate Change.
Comprises of five different applications on the mobile – three mobile games involving different mindsets and psychologies of mobile users, and two mobile learning applications on climate change. The games are being deployed on low-end and low cost handsets to sophisticated high-end devices.
- Copenhagen Challenge
This game aims to create awareness among school children and youth on issues related to climate change – renewable energy, energy efficiency and reduction in greenhouse gases.
- V GAS
Aims at making the connections between individual lifestyles and greenhouse gas emissions, gauging personal contributions to global emissions. V GAS will try to help the user to answer the question ‘how does my lifestyle relate to the global problem?’, as well as ‘what options are there to reduce my contribution to the global problem?’
- Earthquake in Zipland
Help your child cope with the challenges of divorce through a fun and interactive video game, designed specifically for children of divorce and legal separation (Note: This one cost $29.99, but there is a free demo available.).
Is a virtual world for children: a place of fun, beauty, discovery, generosity, sustainability and friendship. Here children can have a place of their own, a place that allows them to explore and grow without constant pressure to buy stuff. It is also a place that embodies core values like sustainability and generosity, without turning those values into a boring lecture.
- One Hen
Interactive activities and games to teach kids about microfinance. This is intended to complement a book on microfinance that currently sells for $12.89 at Amazon.com.
- The Cuckoo of the Computers
Consists of two parts that can be used together or separately. On the one hand an animated video presentation, playing with any fear, explains what is a computer and what can serve to. As the second block are the exercises that users need to be overcome that fears.
"Oh man, I don't even have time to try one (or even read this list!), and now you give me 102. Come on!" Who said you need to try out or read this list. Just share it (the URL) with your students, and tell them the kind of game you might want for your course (Challenge), and let them individually or in groups explore, discover, reflect, select and write a recommendation report. In short, this EduGames list could be a good starting point to start the EduGame discovery journey.
If you are looking for a list that will actually grow (as I discover), please go here: GAMES GALORE.
This post is dead and buried (for now!), but my del.icio.us adventure will continue. Finally, please don't take EduGames too seriously, don't get addicted, but have fun playing them while learning :)