Do most educational games suck?

Since my preview of Conspiracy Code: U.S. History at NECC, I've been thinking again about educational games...


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Here are a bunch of screen shots of different online games for learning. I found them by typing into Google variations of learning games, educational games, learning games high school, educational games middle school, and so on. Most of these appear to be aimed at kids of middle or high school age.

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FunBrain Math Baseball

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PBS Kids You're in Charge

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Quiz Hub U.S. History Timeline Quiz

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Math Playground Math TV

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UPDATE: The creator of this would like me to note that Math TV is a 'learning activity' rather than an educational 'game.' See the comments below for more on this.

eSchoolOnline eMath Pretest

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Asian Countries – Level Seven

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Hotmath Number Cop

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Teach-nology Diner Dash

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CoolMath Pool Geometry 2

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Eat or Be Eaten

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Just from a graphics standpoint, I have to wonder how interesting these games are to preteens and teens when the games below are more along the lines of what they see at home.

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Grand Theft Auto IV

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Madden NFL '09

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Elder Scrolls: Oblivion

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Super Mario Galaxy

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Nancy Drew: Ransom of the Seven Ships

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BioShock

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Plants vs. Zombies

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Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

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So I've got some questions...

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  1. Does the quality of the graphics matter when it comes to educational games? Or is the quality of the learning experience enough?
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  3. Speaking of the learning experience, just how bad are most of these so-called 'educational games?' I wasn't too impressed with the games shown above. In terms of gaming complexity, many of them are using pretty simplistic techniques to try and reach what I'm guessing are fairly-savvy students. Also, many of them seemed to be games from many years ago that still are being pitched to educators and adolescents. I found two of the learning games as links from a high school web site (Asian Countries – Level Seven and Eat or Be Eaten), which made me feel really sad for the students who were in that school.
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  5. Maybe it's completely unfair to compare online learning games with commercial games that are downloadable or on CD-ROM/DVD. So what is out there that's comparable in the commercial downloadable/DVD educational games sector? Anything good? Vendors, if you think you've got educational games that are worth looking at, feel free to comment!
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Your thoughts?

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