Educational Games can be Bad

If there is one thing I have learned this morning, it’s that Educational games can be truly awful. The shapes game on this educational games site is my example:

http://www.education.com/games/airplane-tangram/

Plane

This Shapes game was the most annoying game to try and play, was it even a game?

I Can see where they tried to go with this, The visuals could possibly be influenced by some of the Zany cartoons that you get on cartoon network and fox kids, such as dexter’s lab and cow and chicken. The visuals also remind you a little of the little characters you get on the side lines of the Kingsoft games like candy crush and farm heroes.

The Game play itself is the real bug bear here though, its structural framework is about matching shapes to holes and this would be fine if it wasn’t for the actual mechanics being badly implemented and in some cases not at all.

Not only was game constantly reminding you what to do in a very over the top almost condescending voice ( kids don’t want to be treated like fools ), but the game wouldn’t even complete and give any reward incentive to even make it feel like a game in the first place. I wouldn’t say that any rules and conditions cause conflict in this at all, and there is no competitive modes, unless I guess you timed yourself against someone else. That in itself could make this game more enjoyable, high scores for time completed and would help with cognitive developement.

It’s really just about moving blocks into the right shaped holes, and even when you get everything right it doesn’t do anything, not even a well done or a fan fare, in fact it still keeps repeating where to put the shapes as if you’ve not put them in the right place, which could in actual fact be confusing for young children.

For a game that was manufactured within the last year and although it is a free educational game, I would rate it below average as a game and a teaching tool. It’s obviously aimed at a very young Audience but that does not excuse sloppy design flaws.

I can’t help but feel kids would get more out of playing Tetris.

1tetris_nintendo1

For the Commercial game I chose a game that has been around for decades, Tetris. Mainly because the game relates very much to the cognitive abilities that the first game was trying to teach.

Designed in soviet Russia way back in 1984 by Alexi Pajitnov, the game takes it’s name from the greek word tetra crossed with the word tennis. It is a Tile matching puzzle game that has the player moving and rotating blocks of different colours to match and erase them getting points, this is a game that continues to get progressively harder but he learning curve is such that even young minds can pick it up easily.

There is both a drive for competition in this game and a sense of conflict.

The competitiveness of this game relies on the high score and the lasting the longest, this is created by the way the players utilise the blocks wisely and the way the player can then stop the blocks from filling up the screen before the end of the level.

The Conflict is also caused by the very same blocks, a conflict against the time in which it takes to place the blocks and the time in which they begin to fill up the screen. You are in a constant state of conflict with the game due to this.

The Game’s obvious feed back is the High scores, and the reward of making it to the next level.

Structurally the game is sound, it flows well is challenging, rewarding and is well made. Not only that but it has stood the test of time as one of the number one puzzle games. This could easily be used to teach the same skills as the game above, but would engage the audience much better.

Heck, I’d even prefer Candy Crush, and I dislike that game with a passion…

candy-crush-saga-06-621x535

So in Conclusion I am convinced that Tetris and many of it’s copies would be far more suitable for teaching what the shapes game fails at.

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