Fun and Educational Games

A possible problem lurking in every “educational” video game is the game’s inherent unfunness. An entry on Slashdot examines this idea.

The entry points to a game from Indiana University called Arden, the World of Shakespeare. According to the blurb, the game was designed to “test economic theories.” Okay, just the phrase “test economic theories” makes the game sound dull. The game’s official site concedes, “Arden has yet to become the game we envision.”

So is fun a vital factor in successful game design? Is game not a game when it’s not fun? But is it possible to design an educational game that’s fun?

When “fun” and “educational” are used to describe the same, I generally cringe. But I think it’s possible for certain creative types to create something where the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Educational video games shouldn’t have to be the digital equivalent of bran flakes.

What does everyone think?

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