"You mean THOSE are educational video games!?"
Video games are a surprising phenomenon in our digital world. Today it's easy to marvel at the stupendously complex technical and emotional investment involved in their engineering. An industry that was once overrun with pixel-dominated afternoon escapes now boasts games offering lush immersive and realistic worlds of adventure that it takes the average player weeks to fully experience. Yes indeed, video games have come a long way in the last few decades.
But within all of this hyperrealism lurk hidden opportunities to learn, to grow, and to be challenged.
It's been said that video games have become more like life than ever. If that's true, then it stands to reason that educational video games can often be hiding right in plain sight.
That's what this list of 7 educational video games you didn't know were educational is all about. The lessons these title offer are skills to carry beyond school and into life.
1. Sid Meier's Civilization V: Expect to see Sid Meier's latest masterpiece coming soon to a classroom near you. That's because of how the gameplay fosters critical thinking, awareness of responsibility, and powerful lessons on socio-economic development, politics, and our relation to technology.
2. Guild Wars 2: Guild Wars 2 is an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game) for Mac and PC. As players traverse the various regions of the world working toward their objectives, their choices of what they do and how they do it will ultimately affect future events and interactions.
3. Gone Home: The subject matter of this game alone makes it a noteworthy addition to our short list of educational video games. Emily Morganti for Adventure Gamers says that "many people read books for the opportunity to see life through someone else’s eyes, but it’s rare for a game to do it as well as this one does."
4. Mass Effect: Many educational video games find ways to combine the first-person shooter aspect of gaming with stunning art, challenging interactions, and engrossing storylines. Such is the experience you'll only get from diving into the Mass Effect series. Diplomacy, exploration, team communication, independent choice-making, responsibility, and critical thinking are among some of the skills you can hone playing this incredibly complex open-world adventure.
5. Elder Scrolls: Skyrim: Fantasy and science fiction have often served as successful vehicles for connecting to topics found in subjects like Social Studies, Political Science, and many others. With Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, It's intrigue and danger in its finest Game of Thrones fashion. There aren't many games that teach you about politics and the cost of hidden agendas quite like this one does.
6. Final Fantasy VII: This one is a classic game teaching players all about collaboration, strength in unity, and the power of sacrifice. Add to that situations that exercise lateral thinking and team-building and you've got a host of great lessons in a great game.
7. The Last of Us: This is one of the most emotionally jarring video games on the market today, bar none. You'll get more from the gameplay than knowledge of survival through quick thinking and strategic planning. In addition, prepare yourself for some absolutely heart-rending lessons about loss, love, and the human need for companionship.