Recently I was in a University class in which we were looking at all the different educational games available to today’s youth. Some brought back fond memories and others I had no clue about, but yet others (perhaps younger) exclaimed in delight. It brought me back to thinking about the games I played as a child and whether or not they were educational.
May 30th – Monkey Island
The Monkey Island series was developed by LucasArts as a simple interface game which followed Guybrush Threepwood as he sought out the skills to be a pirate. The environment is completely open and you can interact with a lot of things, not everything but certainly more than at first look. As you move through the game you learn to combine items to make new ones, the art of sword fighting (which isn’t sword fighting at all) and uncover the plot of the ghost pirate LeChuck.
While this game isn’t made for education – it taught me a lot more than I ever knew. I learned problem-solving and critical-thinking skills in solving puzzles and problems of where to go next. I learned about perserverance as the game didn’t direct me to any goal, and I could spend hours without going anywhere, but trying possible solutions, which also resulted in a case of grit.
Today’s games, the popular ones, seem to be stuck on the one path to a goal style, and even the games where you can interact with your environment (Grand Theft Auto) you end up punching people and running them over.
The only place you can still find games like Monkey Island is on the Indie Game scene, they are educational without purposefully being so and that is a good thing.
There are lessons all around us, and even if we didn’t know it at the time, valuable lessons come to light down the road. So I encourage you to look up Monkey Island and for $10 you can download, play and expand your thinking, from a game developed in 1990.