We have said time and time again that games are more than just about killing time with family and friends. In addition to quality time and bonding, games are ideal for teaching all kinds of concepts. Last month we were invited on Paula Sands Live, a lifestyle and human interest show here in the Quad Cities to discuss games as gifts. While we were there, they invited us back to delve deeper into our feelings about the educational value that games can offer.
I’ve been pretty open about the fact that I didn’t like science or history classes as a kid. I’m more of a hands-on person so reading about who fought in what war, when it happened and why just didn’t resonate with me. Reading tends to make me sleepy so how on earth am I supposed to learn when it makes me want to close my eyes? I wish all my teachers had taken a cue from my accounting teacher who had us play Monopoly and record all the transactions in an accounting journal as debits and credits. We went to class and played games… and learned! Here are a handful of examples of games that we’ll be featuring on this afternoon’s Paula Sands Live show.
Games That Teach History and Geography
1775 Rebellion by Academy Games
One of the many titles in their lineup, 1775 Rebellion puts the battle into perspective, explaining the role of militia and more. For those who want to put this into a more formal teaching environment, Academy Games offers a companion Teachers Guide to take advantage of the information and make the most of each lesson. You can read more details about the academic benefits of 1775 Rebellion game.
Escape From Colditz by Osprey Games
There are so many layers to each war that many facts are only known and understood by the die hard historians and history buffs. As an example, Colditz was a German castle converted to a POW camp during World War II. This game, designed by Captain Patrick R. Reed who successfully escaped in 1942, has players cooperatively working as either German guards or POWs to escape. With illustrated cards, replica artifacts and a full history book, Escape From Colditz brings history to life.
1844 1854 by Mayfair Games
There are many games on the market that incorporate a train theme. Some are about completing routes while others offer more depth and historical representation. In 1844 1854, players act as stockholders to build businesses and manage train routes in Switzerland and Austria. Not only does 1844 1854 incorporate historically significant events, but it also teaches economic concepts.
Games that Teach Science
The Manhattan Project by Minion Games
As the name implies, this game is built on the basis of The Manhattan Project. It’s such a controversial subject, but it is a solid part of science as well as history. There are many steps that go into the process: the blueprints, supplies, staffing and even delivery. This game focuses on gathering and utilizing limited resources before your enemies do. It’s informative, strategic and a fun way to learn that Yellow Cake isn’t something you eat. Check out our overview of The Manhattan Project to learn more.
Covelance by Genius Games
Science can be a tough subject to grasp so the various titles by Genius Games make learning science easier. If you were asked to diagram Ethanol, Propene or Aminomethanol, could you? What about Nitrosomethane, Formimidic Acid or Hydroperoxymethane? Yeah. That makes my head hurt also (and my spell check isn’t a fan of it either!) They are all real molecules built with Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen and/or Hydrogen. Covalence focuses on teaching molecular science by having players use clues to deduce what the secret ingredients are in the molecule and reconstruct it. Think of it as team-based Mastermind but science-y.
Alchemists by Czech Games Edition
You don’t need to be creating real potions to grasp the concepts of positive, negative and neutral reactions. Alchemists forces players to use their skills of logic and deduction to figure out which ingredients combine to create which potion. Papers are published and debunked and players learn about test subjects and the impact of adverse effects. You can read more about our thoughts on Alchemists.
Games That Teach Communication Skills
Brick Party by Renegade Games
Yes. Those bricks you have laying around can teach communication. And let me say that you’ll never look at those building sets the same way after playing Brick Party! With rotating partners, players need to use a variety of communication skills to get their partner to assemble the right tangram. Get more information by visiting our prior detailed explanation of Brick Party.
Deception Murder in Hong Kong by Grey Fox Games
Without saying a word and only using a few cue cards, could you convey enough information to get your team to decipher who the murderer in the group is? As one of the team members, you either did it or you’re trying to deflect. That’s the premise of Deception Murder in Hong Kong. It takes a great deal of communication and discussion to figure it out. Talk. Converse. Toss out ideas. Deceive, if you have to. Not only does this teach you how to read body language, but it also helps you learn to present a case.Read more specifics about how to play Deception Murder in Hong Kong.
Escape Room the Game by Spin Master
Learning to evaluate and decipher puzzles is only part of this game. One of the biggest tasks and educational values is the ability to communicate with your teammates. Find out what they know, brainstorm ideas and discover possible solutions on how to win Escape Room. We included a sample video of Escape Room the Game in our recent overview.
There are many more games that I can name as examples of the educational value of games, but these are the ones we will highlight on the TV segment later today. Here on SahmReviews we will continue to showcase the benefits of gaming with respect to mathematics, stock market, economics, programming, writing, public speaking, vocabulary, politics and more. Maybe we’ll be able to demonstrate more on a segment of the Paula Sands Live show at a later date!
What subject do you think could benefit most from a board game?