The concept of “educational game” is vague. Some consider that it should be something like Prodigy: Math Game, Reader Rabbit, all evolving around the school course wrapped in an unrelated story. Others argue that any game with even a little challenge is educational. Each approach has its apologists, but listen: would you like to play a gamified textbook? Or find any educational value in Mortal Kombat?
As for us, a good educational game for adults should utilize some knowledge or involve some skills from real life, any of these being principal for the gameplay. It doesn’t have to be dull — no way! It doesn’t have to correspond with anything schools require us to know. They are about the real world — the one we live in. Here are five educational free games that we also consider fun.
Capitalism Plus/Capitalism 2
This dilogy of business simulation games is considered classics nowadays. The original Capitalism was released in 1995, followed by the sequel in 2001. Capitalism Plus is an updated version of the original game, compatible with today’s hardware and operating systems. The series is widely recognized among professionals, enough to be recommended for students in business colleges.
Both games are similar in the premise: you play as a CEO of a business, developing it and keeping it from either going bankrupt or being sold to a bigger fish. Select your industry and make it to the top of it. Create new products, promote them, optimize expenses, balance quality and pricing, mind the brand power, and finally become the leader. It will grant you enough chances to try your skills; even though the money is virtual, the feeling is real.
Age of Empires 2
Among all history based RTS games, Age of Empires 2 is considered the GOAT. A classical 2D strategy, it’s been updated through all the decades it’s around, constantly getting new campaigns, maps, civilizations, units and technologies. It’s been remastered to fit the new HD screens, and the designers made all these castles and knights, lions and buffalos, universities and monasteries, cannons and trebuchets look more realistic — but still the way they looked in the original game. So it’s quite playable in 2020. You can even participate in online tournaments.
Not that it’s absolutely historically accurate. Some stories had to be rewritten to be more of a novel, less of a chronic. Civilizations are way better balanced than they were in real life. Random maps may host impossible wars, like Mayans and Saracens versus China and Britain somewhere in Norway or Africa. The built-in encyclopedia (the game was released before Wikipedia), though, gives a brief overview of all the civilizations, lands and countries, kings and queens, generals, weapons, and so on.
Endless Ocean Dilogy
One of the best educational game ideas for adults is a naturalist game. For those into nature, but unable to go diving in real life (well, no one else can be a Jacques-Yves Cousteau), Endless Ocean will be a magic underwater trip. Made as simulators of scuba diving, Endless Ocean games emulate the real feel of exploring the sea bottom. So all you do in these games is swim under the surface and see various fish species. The aim of the game is to identify as many as you can. This game is about meditating and contemplating rather than action. But that’s what it’s loved for, along with visuals and great soundtrack. It’s a very relaxing one, ambient like real oceanic water.
Like Capitalism, Endless Ocean games are not interconnected. Like Age of Empires II, each has a built-in encyclopedia. You can start with the second installment and then return (or not) to the first. The greatest inconvenience about this beautiful dilogy is that it requires a Nintendo console, and not the actual Switch, but the discontinued Wii.
Learn Japanese to Survive - Hiragana Battle/Katakana Wars
Will you need Japanese in real life? If you do, you probably already learn it in a more serious way. But if you just want to start learning some nonalphabetical language, that’s the chance. Not that you will learn Japanese perfectly with these games, but you’ll at least comprehend the basic concept in an adequate fashion. Did you know, for example, that the Japanese use three various character systems? If not, that’s just the beginning.
Hiragana Battle will guide you through the basics of Hiragana (the phonetic Japanese system), while Katakana Wars (logically) is about the traditional hieroglyphic system Katakana. The warriors opposing you are the symbols you need to recognize; if you do it correctly, you win and advance in the story. When it comes to Japanese, it’s not as mechanical as it is with math or chemistry, because these games deliver the feeling of a samurai combination of martial and poetic arts. That’s why the patience you will need to learn (and learning is still here) is of a different sort. There’s no more tedium to dispel: it’s all about concentration and immersion. And if you forget something, there are guides and notes to remind you.
Well, education and knowing lots of otherwise useless facts is not the same. But knowledge never grants it will be useless: sometimes it pops up unexpectedly, giving you new ideas. How to measure your knowledge in various spheres of life? Trivia Crack is the answer. Inspired by Jeopardy! and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, it checks your knowledge everywhere. Which continent hosts Ghana? Who coined the word “weird”? Who is the archenemy of Batman? What fruit wasn’t around in Christ’s time? These and other questions are what you compete with random opponents about.
The game is available on mobile devices and in Facebook Gameroom, and it’s completely free, though ad-supported. It’s a great way to feel competent and educated – and, at the same time, to see gaps in your knowledge to fill them after that.
Question: How Many Games Are There?
By the way: have you noticed that there are, in fact, eight games? If not, reread it. And if you think there are more games to be mentioned, drop a name in comments. Who knows, maybe you know a great online educational game you might share? Or at least share your impressions of playing any of the ones we mention here.