The gaming universe is peppered with plenty of exciting learning games. Some of these games can be arranged into neat categories, but many of them straddle the lines. Educational technology has advanced so rapidly over the years that many of these games encompass strategy-based elements, skill and dexterity, mathematical computations, and common sense. Whether it’s a logic game, a creative game, or a mathematical game – learning games are designed to develop a person’s grey matter by enhancing their skills and abilities. Multiple factors must be considered when discussing learning games.

Perhaps the most important question to ask is the following: How can a game be used to enhance learning?

Educators are front and centre when it comes to learning games. They often use didactic entertainment gaming options to educate students. While video game developers have no time limitations to bear in mind when designing and developing games, teachers have to complete gaming sessions in set periods of time. There are many examples of fantastic video games that tend to go on ad nauseam. Consider games like Super Mario Brothers, Pac-Man, Street Fighter, and the like. While these are not educational games per se, they utilize skill and dexterity, memory and learned ability throughout. Players are required to spend significant amounts of time mastering the skills and abilities needed to complete levels, missions, and gaming sessions.

From an educational standpoint, there is a world of difference between long-form games and short-form games. If a learning session in the classroom is restricted to 40 minutes, the entire educational game cannot take more than 20 minutes – 30 minutes to complete. Students need time to get settled, understand the rules of play, and to vacate the classroom in time for the next lesson. The criteria for evaluating the efficacy of a game differs markedly when comparing educational games and multi-period style games. The way short-form games are selected is entirely different to the way long-form games are chosen. Top examples of short form games include Reach for the Sun, Wuzzit Trouble, Mars Generation One: Arguebot Academy, and the like.

Quality mathematical games are like precision mathematical instruments. Except in this case, they are complex digital options that provide instant feedback to players. From an educational standpoint, a high-quality mathematics game teaches the player a lot about numbers. Game-based learning is a powerful way to help students understand real-world problems. Game designers are actively creating powerful mechanisms to help players learn the concepts needed to solve puzzles, riddles, complex equations, and logic problems. Game-style learning is geared towards fostering literacy and comprehension. Experiential instruction is offered, and teachers are merely the facilitators of such knowledge. Games are considered systems in the broader environment, and students must make the connection between real-world situations and the in-game mechanics.

What type of game genres currently exist?

Perhaps the most popular game type of all is puzzlers. Puzzle-style games are challenging, immersive, and rewarding. They require players to arrange shapes, figures, blocks, or other objects in a pattern, or according to a complex rule base. These puzzle-style games are the most popular educational games on the net. Consider the worldwide popularity of Tetris – a basic shape shifting puzzle game that requires players to slot pieces into one another to clear levels. Of course, there are multiple puzzle-style games available, including Sudoku, Mah-Jongg, Solitaire, and various cube-style games.

The cube, or block, is particularly fascinating. Game designers have exploited this geometric shape to great effect. Puzzle games often fuse strategy and logic to create interactive leveling-up adventures for players. These types of strategy games often take the form of Blast Games where players are required to match combinations of cubes to blast them from a level. Once the cubes have been eliminated through spectacular game effects (rockets, bombs and color wheels), players quickly learn what associations are needed to initiate these features. This experiential learning and puzzle solving ability translates into real-world applications too.

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