Beyond serious games: learning without training

Edutainment is becoming a larger part of gaming all the time, but at the Edinburgh Interactive Festival, two educators are wondering if we shouldn't do away with the genre altogether. Dr. Graham Brown-Martin and Derek Robertson are using Nintendogs and Guitar Hero, among others, as examples of regular (read: fun) games that have some hidden educational merit. Nintendogs, for example, helps teach kids budgeting and money management almost by accident. Within the game, you have to manage your funds in order to keep your pups supplied with both essentials and extras, but it never feels like you're learning. Instead, you're just playing.

Robertson and Brown-Martin include Brain Age in the games-for-fun category, however, so we're not precisely sure where they're drawing the line. But they're definitely in favor of off-the-shelf games helping out in the classroom, rather than poorly-designed knock-offs that serve as more straightforward teaching tools (rather than actual games). After all the benefits we've seen from teachers who've tried the DS in classrooms around the world lead us to agree.

Remember their arguments for the future. This is a great way to explain to Mom that Grand Theft Auto is actually educational. You have money. You have to buy things. It's budgeting. Remind her that she should try it. We promise, this argument will take you far.
You can learn a lot with the DS! Pick up a new language, master a workout, train your brain ... and hey, just play, too.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.