Why do educational games suck so bad? Basically, the designers are trying to justify their existence as a professional and address persistent reservoirs of incapacity. These reservoirs can be small, like a small percentage of students who fail a subject or the public’s general lack of understanding of a given issue. But this is a bad model for a game that is supposed to help kids learn.
Most “educational” games are simply attempts to make boring practice more enjoyable. They aim to teach students traditional education goals in a fun way. Investigations math, for example, offers simple offline games to encourage kids to learn without realizing it. The aim of the game is to encourage kids to engage in meaningful goals and develop skills without realizing they’re doing so. In other words, games that help kids learn without realizing they’re doing so are more likely to succeed in a class.
In an interview with the Chronicle of Higher Education, game designer Will Wright discussed the importance of using games in education. While he acknowledged the importance of gaming to introduce new topics to students and to motivate them, he says the games must strike a balance between fun and curriculum, and they often don’t strike that balance. Moreover, too much pedagogy can lead to a poor game that is not fun for students.