The Top 10 Most Influential Educational Video Games from the 1980s

People who grew up playing videogames are influenced by them, especially when designing games of their own. Those who played through the 1980s are reaching their professional prime, and the games they played in school are worth examining. Here we’ll take a look at what I consider to be the top ten most influential educational games from the 1980s.

The Eighties were an exciting time for video games, as graphics and computing power increased to the point where games started to become visually appealing and interactive. Educational games from that decade in particular taught teachers, parents, students, and designers things that are still influencing titles today.

Thanks to the wonders of the web, the original versions of these games are often available online, and there are discs and ports to other platforms floating around as well. Playing the original versions, while nostalgic, also helps remind us what made these games important. Some things they taught us were good (learning can be fun when presented properly). Some things, not so good (skill and drill only gets you so far, even in a game). Read on for a trip down memory lane, a discussion of each game’s significance, and some locations to try out versions for free.

1. The Oregon Trail

Released: The Oregon Trail came out in 1985 for the Apple II from Brøderbund. Earlier versions were produced by the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (MECC).

Significance: Showed us resource management could be a fun and thoughtful element within an educational video game, with a strong dollop of historical context to boot.

Commentary: First developed in the 1970s by student teacher Don Rawitsch, the game probably stretched the boundaries of good taste in some ways, perhaps making it all the more intriguing to school children. Some of the elements bordered on the scatological (“You have dysentery!”). The hunting mini-game was popular with boys, introducing video game shoot-em-ups on school computers; those were more innocent times. But teachers in the 1980s were happy to put all those Apple II and IIe computers to good use engaging students. Even better, kids actually picked up a pedagogical point or two.

A good review, and a link to the original disc image and an Apple IIe emulator are available over at classicgaming.gamespy.com. A web version requiring merely a browser plugin is available at virtualapple.org. An online version called Westward Trail is available here.

2. Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

Released: The original Carmen Sandiego title also came out in 1985 for the Apple II from Brøderbund; 1985 was a good year for the company.

Significance
: Showed us a boring school topic (geography) could be presented in an interesting way within the videogame medium.

Commentary: According to Wikipedia, Gary Carlston, who helped found Brøderbund, was personally committed to making geography fun and spearheaded efforts to develop the game. Indeed, almanacs were never so cool as students followed the trail of a master thief across the world. Subsequent titles focused on the United States, Europe, and even the space-time continuum. The Carmen Sandiego games were lauded for their educational content, and found their way into classrooms everywhere. For a while, The Learning Company kept up a free online version based on the TV series. Alas, those wishing to play down memory lane for free will have to check the abandoned software sites. As of this writing, the 1991 DOS version is available for download here.

3. SimCity

Released: One of the two first games released by Maxis, in 1989.

Significance
: Showed us that games without a clear way to win can still be fun, educational, and time consuming.

Commentary
: The first smash hit from legendary game designer Will Wright, and one of the first for the Maxis software company, SimCity was destined for greatness. Legend has it the project was turned down by all the big gaming companies, including Brøderbund, when Wright pitched it on account of the game’s objectives were ill defined. How they must rue the day now, as the Sim line of titles has sold in the multi-million copy range for years. The game spearheaded a wide variety of complex computer social simulations featuring variable manipulations for education, business, and entertainment.

Users have long been able to play Classic SimCity online. Earlier this year, the original code was released as open source so it could be loaded on the XO, better known as the “$100 Laptop,” as part of the One Laptop Per Child initiative. The open source version uses the name Micropolis, Wright’s original name for the program.

4. Reader Rabbit

Released: The first title in the Reader Rabbit series was released by The Learning Company in 1989.

Significance: Showed us that computer games could be effectively used in early education introducing toddlers to language arts.

Commentary: Reader Rabbit is a household name in educational software, and the series remains active. Reader Rabbit became one of the early educational gaming series that capitalized on name brand awareness. Many innovators in the edutainment genre followed the Reader Rabbit formula of placing educational content for young players in a fun and interactive environment. Among the more notable: titles in the JumpStart series.

The first edition of Reader Rabbit featured word games designed to introduce letters and sounds to children. Subsequent titles rapidly increased in complexity. It’s hard to find the original online, but for those interested in sampling the look and feel of the series, Riverdeep offers a trial download of the Learning to Read with Phonics version here.

5. Math Blaster

Released: The first title in the Math Blaster series was released by Davidson in 1987.

Significance: Demonstrated how basic math worksheets could be fun when delivered within a videogaming environment.

Commentary: Math Blaster is yet another household name in edutainment with versions still being released under the brand. Brian Crecente over at Kotaku noted a version for the Nintendo DS is to be ported over later this year. One item of interest is the notion of interspersing math problems within a pure gaming environment. I remember playing a version requiring the proper answering of basic equations in order to load up on ammo for the space “blasting” game. This particular type of edutainment has been criticized as the “chocolate covered broccoli” approach to educational gaming, notably by Justin Peters in Slate among others. In other words, it couches the boring, educationally valuable stuff (math worksheets, in this case) within a fun gaming environment. In that regard, many serious game designers today often try other approaches, such as integrating pedagogy directly in the game play. Finding a free online copy to play is tough, but a 2 hour free trial of a recent version is available from DemoNews.com.

6. Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing
Released: Software Toolworks released the first version of Mavis Beacon in 1987.

Significance: Showed us computer skills could be effectively drilled through playful software.

Commentary: I was in an electronics store in College Station in the late ’80s, near the software section. A couple of elementary teachers walked in, and one of them saw the Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing box on the shelf.

“Look! It’s Mavis Beacon,” she said, a note of wonder in her voice.

The other one said, “Mavis! What are you doing now!?”

They stood and stared for a while, gushing in their praise for Ms. Beacon. After they left, I wandered over and inspected the box. On impulse, I bought it and brought it home. Someday I’ll have to write about the house I lived in while attending Texas A&M. Up to eight guys lived there at any given time; most were engineering or ag science students. We had a BBS set up on a separate phone line, and spent a lot of time on TAMU mainframes. It was a terrific introduction to educational computing, and PCs were still young back then. To show you what nerds my roommates and I were, all of us took turns on Mavis Beacon to see who could type the fastest, a competition that lasted all semester.

Alas, little did the elementary teachers from so long ago know, nor I, nor my roommates, but Mavis Beacon was a marketing nom de guerre. It turns out the picture of the smiling Mavis was that of a model, and like Betty Crocker she was a persona created to sell products. Regardless, the product was a good one, and it has helped countless people improve their typing down through the years. Version 17 of the venerable program is available for trial download here.

7. Lemonade Stand
Released: Created by Bobb Jamison from the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium (MECC) in 1973; coded for the Apple II by Charlie Kellner in 1979. Copies were included with Apple computers sold throughout the Eighties.

Significance
: Showed us that potentially complex and hard to understand concepts like economic theory could be simply and effectively illustrated in a video game.

Commentary
: MECC was one of the great success stories of early educational computing, and Lemonade Stand is perhaps their most famous program after The Oregon Trail. A holdover from the 1970s, a version of Lemonade Stand was included with Apple II machines into the Eighties. Countless school children fired it up and were introduced to economic theory through playing the game. A web version (one among many) is available here.

The game was a “practical simulation,” combining economic theory with simple concepts kids understand (i.e., a lemonade stand). It showed that with judicious decisions, positive outcomes were possible even with variables outside the player’s control (like the weather). The concept has not died, and there are later versions like Lemonade Empire, Hot Dog Stand, and others which follow the same concept.

8. Number Munchers
Released: The DOS version was released in 1988 by MECC.

Significance: Showed basic skill and drill for math could be much more fun on a video screen than on paper.

Commentary: NumberMunchers was the first title in MECC’s muncher series, followed by WordMunchers and others. Vaguely resembling PacMan, players rushed to find correct numbers to the problem onscreen before getting “eaten” by troggles, a process which forced quick mental calculations. It continues to prove exceptionally popular, both among those remembering it from their school days to new adherents recently discovering the game. Online versions abound, but the most important one is over at numbermunchers.org. The actual game can be freely downloaded from PC Magazine here.

9. Zork
Released: 1980, Infocom’s first game.

Significance
: Showed that interactive fiction was a compelling medium.

Commentary
: To anyone who played it, the opening lines from Zork are immortal: “You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door. There is a small mailbox here.”
Was it educational? Indirectly. The game certainly made players read and think, exercises which parents and teachers have harangued youngsters about for years. I played an early version of this game thanks to a fun loving uncle who had access to his office’s mainframe after hours. I think the game was an eye-opener as to what could be done with narrative text and programming. It inspired legions of imitators, but was quickly made obsolete by such graphical games as Wizardry and Ultima I. Infocom’s fate was tied to the ascension of graphical computing as well, as it was bought out by Activision and faded from prominence before the end of the decade. There are still versions of all games in the Zork series floating around online, and its predecessor Adventure. Java versions of Infocom titles as of this writing are available here.

10. Windows Solitaire
Released: Developed in 1989 by Microsoft intern Wes Cherry. Included in Windows 3.0 and every Windows version since 1990.

Significance: Eased the transition to a mouse-based GUI for millions of computer users. Showed us games can have an enormous impact on business computing skills.

Commentary: Before 1990, early versions of Microsoft Windows were nothing more than fancy menu systems, presenting a list of programs to choose when starting the computer. I recall reading PC Magazine when Windows 3.0 was introduced, telling us that finally here was a version of Windows worth getting, so I did. Like many others firing up Windows 3.0 the first time, I noticed the Games folder, and quickly tried out Windows Solitaire. The brilliance behind placing this game within Windows was the fact most DOS users grew up on keyboard commands and shortcuts. Despite the proliferation of menu systems, most computers booted to the C prompt, requiring a typed command to start programs. Windows 3.0 not only used the mouse, it required the mouse for navigation. After a few rounds with Windows Solitaire, even the most diehard keyboard shortcut user who had used the same key combinations since the days of WordStar, became proficient with clicking, dragging and dropping with a mouse. In some ways, Windows Solitaire became the most successful educational video game of all time.

Windows Solitaire is still available for free in Vista. The Media Center Solitaire Power Toy for XP is available from Microsoft here.

Honorable Mention: M.U.L.E.
Released
: 1983 from Ozark Softscape via Electronic Arts, originally for Atari products.

Significance: Showed developers how to do multi-player action. Inspired many future programmers.

Commentary: Lazarus Long was a character developed by science fiction author Robert Heinlein as a time travelling fellow who could not, would not die. In Time Enough for Love, readers found Long on a frontier planet, where old fashioned technology was used until colonists could become self sufficient. The book provided an interesting dichotomy between space ships bringing in supplies and colonists using farm animals to settle the new world. Among the many derivative works from Heinlein’s writings (the Starship Troopers board game and movie, for instance), came M.U.L.E., an early multi-player video game. M.U.L.E. stands for Multiple Use Labor Element, and is named after the animals used in Heinlein’s book. The game focuses on supply and demand economics, and allows players to take turns exploiting resources on a recently colonized planet (the planet’s name is Irata in the game, or Atari spelled backwards).

One of the nice things about writing a blog is feedback from readers, and with any top ten list somebody may feel an important item is left out. Keri Mogret commented to suggest M.U.L.E. should be included as an influential educational game from the 1980s, and I heartily agree, resulting in the addition here of M.U.L.E. to the original top ten.

This particular game was something I’d heard about and later read about, but never had the pleasure of playing. (Yes, I read all of Heinlein’s books, but never played the games. Sorry. I did see the Starship Troopers board game at a relative’s house, ca. 1980, and looked at it but didn’t play.)

Via emulators, M.U.L.E. can be downloaded nowadays from several sources. Here’s one good site, and here’s a great fan site. Subtrade is reportedly the best clone of M.U.L.E., and by some accounts is actually better than the original game.

Honorable Mention: Rocky’s Boots
Released
: 1982 by The Learning Company for various platforms; authored by Warren Robinett and Leslie Grimm.

Significance: Showed us a graphical game engine was viable for educational gaming.

Commentary: Rocky’s Boots and its sequel, Robot Odyssey (based on the same gaming engine) were puzzle games requiring players to think their way through solutions. The object of the game involved kicking different shapes off a conveyer belt for points. The concept of using computer graphics in a game designed to make children think was somewhat revolutionary at the time, and Rocky’s Boots won several awards. Here’s a quote from an abstract for a paper in 1984:

Rocky’s Boots (RB), an educational game developed for use with Apple computers, is widely considered to be one of the most imaginative and engaging pieces of educational software currently available. RB presents an introduction to the logical concepts of AND, OR, and NOT. Players incorporate these concepts into arguments which are modeled as “machines.”

Coauthor Warren Robinett keeps a page devoted to the game here, including a disc image that can be played with an Apple II emulator.

92 Comments

  • By igre, September 16, 2008 @ 3:56 pm

    Hi,

    Just want to say that I have played almoust all of that games and this is a great article as well, nice to remember some not so far past…

  • By Karl Kapp, September 18, 2008 @ 9:03 pm

    John,

    Great list! I am going to link to this post.

    Karl

  • By morgretdesigns, September 20, 2008 @ 8:51 am

    M.U.L.E. for the Commodore 64 was also a great educational game, teaching about supply and demand economics. I remember learning about economies of scale, but that those economies scaled so far. I’m sure I would remember more if I saw it, but it’s been over 20 years since I played it.

  • By morgretdesigns, September 20, 2008 @ 8:52 am

    The Wikipedia link for M.U.L.E. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M.U.L.E.

  • By John Rice, September 20, 2008 @ 11:17 am

    @Keri Morgret – Dang! You are right, M.U.L.E. deserves to be on the list. I’d heard of it but never played it, which helps explain why I didn’t think about it when compiling the list.

    @Karl & Igre – thanks!

    JR

  • By Montoli, September 28, 2008 @ 4:13 pm

    Erm. Nice article, but MECC was the MINNESOTA Educational Computing Consortium. Not Michigan. As someone with the good fortune to be growing up in Minnesota at the time MECC was still active, this distinction is important to me. :D

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MECC

  • By The CJM, September 28, 2008 @ 4:48 pm

    MECC stands for Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium, not Michigan. Looks like you need more geography games on this list!

  • By rachel, September 28, 2008 @ 6:44 pm

    Does anyone know anything about LEWIS AND CLARK STAY HOME. It was not Oregon Trail, but a game kind of like it. Lewis and Clark got sick so Thomas Jefferson sent a letter that he needed you to do their travels for them. You were supposed to trade with the Native Americans and before you came upon their tribe you were warned about how aggressive or friendly they were. I loved this game and can not find it anywhere. It was either published by MECC or The Learning Company. THankyou, Rachel

  • By Kyralessa, September 28, 2008 @ 7:14 pm

    How can you fail to include the classic “Rocky’s Boots”?

    http://www.warrenrobinett.com/rockysboots/

  • By Matt, September 28, 2008 @ 8:10 pm

    I think you forgot LOGO, which as I remember was fairly popular in my area on the East Coast

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logo_(programming_language).

    I think I played all the others except Reader rabbit (which i remember friends talking about) and M.U.L.E

  • By Guy Chapman, September 28, 2008 @ 8:39 pm

    Also, how could you forget Odell Lake? Such a classic title.

  • By Jon, September 28, 2008 @ 9:32 pm

    Clearly none of these great games helped you guys count to ten.

  • By John Rice, September 28, 2008 @ 9:32 pm

    @Montoli & The CJM – mea culpa. I get confused with all those M states, being from Texas and all. I did get it right the second mention, tho. Will fix it asap.

    @Rachel – I’ll keep an eye out for it.

    @Kyralessa – another candidate for honorable mention! :)

    @Matt – I’ve written extensively about LOGO on this blog & elsewhere. You can make games with it, but it’s not really a game itself, being a programming language and all.

    @Guy – ah, another MECC title. Good candidate, but not as well known as the others.

    @Jon – yeh, we made it an honorable mention section. ;)

  • By S, September 29, 2008 @ 12:42 pm

    Seriously? There’s a game by the makers of Oregon Trail called Odell Lake? Cause that’s where my family goes camping every year. Here in Oregon. What’d they do, take a dart to our whole state and then create their game titles?? ;)

  • By Navi, September 29, 2008 @ 1:10 pm

    I’m lame. I didn’t play any of those.

  • By Cameron, September 29, 2008 @ 2:00 pm

    I remember playing M.U.L.E. once with my friend David. At one of the auctions, he convinced me to stand by, do nothing, and just watch the price per unit rise and rise. Then, out of nowhere, he said, “Hey, at prices like *that*, who can resist?” and zapped down and sold his goodies to the computer player for something like 14 trillion dollars while I was stuck up at the top of the screen, seething. Completely wiped me out.

    Yeah, that was a pretty frickin’ educational game.

  • By Alz, September 29, 2008 @ 2:14 pm

    One other 80′s “Edutainment” title worth mentioning is Seven Cities of Gold. It combined a sense of adventure and discovery with a true open world feel. Managing your resources was critical to getting a large enough fleet across a dangerous ocean, trading goods for gold, and dealing with the natives felt honest and real.

    Before morally ambiguous games like GTA, Seven Cities was the first game I remember that let you deal with issues like negotiating with villagers either by generosity (gifts), awe (“Amaze the Natives”) or outright genocide (hope you brought friends!) and didn’t judge but reacted accordingly.

    Sadly, all these options were choices the real discoverers of the “new world” had as well.

  • By Matt D., September 29, 2008 @ 2:59 pm

    No mention of Dope Wars?

    Granted, the subject matter wasn’t something educators necessarily wanted to encourage, but that’s part of what made it fun to play.

  • By laura, September 29, 2008 @ 6:05 pm

    What about Treasure Mountain?? I LOVED that game as a child. Or was it not from the 80s…?

  • By guesst, September 29, 2008 @ 7:01 pm

    Let’s see, no mention of Rocky’s Boots or Robot Odyssey. No mention of the Super Solver series of games (LOOOOOVE that Treasure Mathstorm). Zork and Solitare should have been better defended as educational titles. I don’t quite see it. Great games, but it seemed like you were just trying to get 10 games and you ran out of titles. Well, my friend, there are two.

  • By John Rice, September 30, 2008 @ 3:07 am

    @Laura – TM was a 90′s game, but I do remember it was very engaging.

    @Alz – Seven Cities of Gold really fell into the strategy game genre. I think it won strategy game of the year back in the day. But really, most video games are educational in some way, if they’re worth their salt, so you have an excellent point.

    @Guesst – You and several others have suggested Rocky’s Boots, and it’s been added to the Honorable Mention section. I disagree that Robot Odyssey was all that influential, as it was merely a sequel. And actually, far short of running out, I had too many titles to fit neatly into a top 10. :)

  • By mcloide, September 30, 2008 @ 3:14 pm

    Not sure about all the rest, but “Where in the World is Carmen San Diego” and “Sim City” where pretty cool for the time.

  • By starjots, September 30, 2008 @ 4:35 pm

    Nice list. We had the first five you mentioned and they got a lot of play time with my kids… Hey they can all spell and do math :) Thanks for the memories.

  • By Tony, September 30, 2008 @ 5:14 pm

    Odelle Lake was awesome. Glad someone else mentioned it.

  • By gearsofrock, September 30, 2008 @ 5:46 pm

    Nice list. I used to love Carmen Sandiego.

    Why isn’t Frogger [1981] on the list? That game taught me how to cross the street without getting squashed.

    If you do a list for the 1990s, make sure you give Age of Empires some props!

  • By pharmgirl, September 30, 2008 @ 8:44 pm

    I’m sure this makes me hopelessly nerdy, but this article brought back a ton of great memories. Thanks for posting!

  • By Ithaca real estate broker, September 30, 2008 @ 9:36 pm

    I remember lemonade stand on the apple IIe. I also owned a Commodore Vic20 and 64 when I was kid. I also owned colleco pong – it was black and white believe it or not and it plugged into the TV.

  • By MattMN, October 1, 2008 @ 10:00 am

    Minnesotan who was raised on the MECC games in elementry school from 86-91. Loved Odell Lake!

    Oh and what about Circus Math?

  • By Serpentor, October 1, 2008 @ 9:43 pm

    Great list but there is some false information on it. Item #3, SimCity was NOT the first game Will Wright designed. From Wikipedia “Wright’s first game was the helicopter action game Raid on Bungeling Bay (1984) for the Commodore 64.” It was actually during the development of RoBB that Will realized he had more fun creating the cities on the islands than doing any of the action-y helicopter stuff. This is where the idea for SimCity came from and the rest is history!

  • By Lesser Whark, October 2, 2008 @ 7:14 pm

    I don’t know why, but even The Learning Company gets the history of Reader Rabbit wrong. I have an Apple II version that’s copyright 1984, and my mother believes there was a still earlier, less sophisticated version. We also have Writer Rabbit from 1986 – an amazing program that strung together random phrases to create surreal, yet grammatically correct, sentences.

  • By John Rice, October 2, 2008 @ 7:39 pm

    @Serpentor – Thanks for catching that. I’ve changed it to indicate SimCity was Will Wright’s first commercially successful title.

    @Lesser Whark – I’d love to read a history of some of these legendary companies. I enjoyed Dungeons and Dreamers by Brad King and John Borland. They did an excellent job exploring that whole fabulous time.

  • By Dustin, October 4, 2008 @ 1:59 am

    This list brought back some since forgotten memories. Now I’m racking my brain trying to think of two games I played. One is a math based game where you pick a robot, then complete math problems to move him. The object was to have your robot move back and forth across the screen until you made it to the bottom. The other was (what I thought was Peter Rabbit, but after some searching doesn’t give me any results) some sort of educational adventure where you help a rabbit get back home.

  • By rachel, October 5, 2008 @ 5:48 pm

    Thankyou

  • By Sophia, October 6, 2008 @ 1:48 pm

    Question:

    I used to play a certain video game that I can not remember the title to. Here is my best description of it:

    It had to do with a robot and math, Mozart’s symphony No. 40 was the theme song, actually played throughout the game. It took place in a science lab and I remember the main colors of the game were black and purple. It was a sneaky game. I think it was more of a 90′s game, at least thats when I played it.

    Thats the best I can do, if anyone can remember the title of that game please let me know! Sorry for such a poor description.

    Thanks!

  • By rachel, October 17, 2008 @ 5:14 pm

    Still nothing on “Lewis and Clark Stay Home”. I’m so disappointed. I’ll keep trying.

  • By m j david, October 19, 2008 @ 12:12 pm

    Is Logical Journey of the Zoombinis a 90′s game? That was a favorite at my house. If you do a 90′s list, Zoombinis should definitely be on it! You had to read, think, and test your theories. We had almost all of the games listed in the 80s. My kids grew up with various versions of Reader Rabbit, Super Solvers, Carmen, Oregon Trail, etc., and several of the 90s games – Treasure mountain, Treasure cove, etc. I don’t know how much they learned in any particular subject area, but they became very comfortable with using computers for a variety of purposes which was a worthwhile result. Thanks for the article!

  • By Bitter Kevin, October 19, 2008 @ 6:03 pm

    No Spellicopter = FAIL

  • By bemused, October 20, 2008 @ 1:45 pm

    My kids had many of these, and liked them, but their favorites aren’t on the list:

    Treehouse

    Operation Neptune

  • By nicestrategy, October 20, 2008 @ 6:32 pm

    Personally, I loved Balance of Power. Maoist rebels in Peru? That would be Shining Path.

  • By Matt, October 21, 2008 @ 11:15 am

    The original math blaster was actually released for the black & white mac classic back in 1985.

  • By May, October 22, 2008 @ 3:43 pm

    Ahhh, Carmen Sandiego… I remember the good old days in the school’s computer room. That game was VERY fun… without access to an encyclopedia or the vast knowledge of what the internet holds today, there was no way of knowing where the fugitive was running of to! Great game nonetheless. Thanks for the post!

  • By Morgan, November 29, 2008 @ 1:04 am

    Someone please find that Lewis and Clark game!!

  • By ned, December 16, 2008 @ 7:58 pm

    Rachel, you are not the only one who is looking for that game. I found this site while scouring the web to try and figure out what the name was. I never got to play oregon trail and when people were talking about it, my first though was that they were talking about that Lewis and Clark game. I can’t validate whether the name of the game was actually LEWIS AND CLARK STAY HOME or something else. It had been seriously bugging me that I could not remember the name of that game or find anyone else that knew what I was talking about. The game was one of a few games we had available, some of which are not mentioned, at school and I remember it being so difficult for a little kid like me at the time. Other fun games that have been brought up:

    Hotdog Stand (I think this might be like lemonade stand)

    How The West Was Won (math game where you were a train that raced a stage coach to the city at the end)

    Treasure Math Storm (awesome and endless…)

    a typing game that might be a version of Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. It had typing mini-games. Examples; help a cat in a row boat get to shore, make a car go faster in a 1 on 1 race.

    Thanks for this great article!!

  • By Mobius, January 4, 2009 @ 5:23 pm

    I didn’t expect to see any games that I’ve played before but I was wrong, I saw Number Muncher on the list. ;p

  • By Pat, March 4, 2009 @ 1:28 pm

    OK, if anyone remembers this you are good. My kids, now 26 & 30 could not remember an interactive game that was from our 1st computer (1986 or so). You went exploring in a house room to room, there was a rabbit that asked if you wanted some tea, selected different items in each room that would either communicate something or lead you to something else, etc.

  • By Elise, May 18, 2009 @ 7:44 pm

    dr. brain

  • By Elise, May 18, 2009 @ 7:46 pm

    i have a question…

    does anyone remember a game where there was a girl in a dress and she would climb ladders and there were books with question marks on them? i cant remember the game for the life of me

  • By Cam, June 11, 2009 @ 4:44 pm

    I remember a game on the old Apple I or II where you flew a ship through very hard screens and landed to exit as a robot and go from screen to screen to attack other robots. I played this in the classroom sometime between 1980 to 1983. Any ideas?

  • By maire, July 1, 2009 @ 1:10 am

    I am looking for the same game!! I have no idea what it was called but here is what I can remember:

    -You could either be a blonde boy character or a brunette girl character.
    -You had to collect books? or boxes with letters on them (I guess once you had a few they would spell something out but I can’t remember that happening..)
    -There were red ladders to climb up to get to a door, leading to the next level.
    - The colours in the game were very vibrant, lime yellows, fuschia pinks, bright blues..
    - It was very pixelated..
    ..I can see it in my mind and can draw a very clear picture of what the game LOOKS like, but I have no idea what the name is.. I remember having it on our first computer – around 1995, and I saw it again on a 98 computer at my school in 2002. :( Can anyone help???

  • By Jodi Schuelke, July 8, 2009 @ 11:42 pm

    Does anyone remember a math game that had alien in the middle of space and you where the space ship. The alien would throw math problems out to you and you would have to answer them before it got to you. Please let me know the name of this game if you anyone can remember. I played it on a apple computer where it took the big floppy disk.

  • By Rachel, July 10, 2009 @ 4:58 pm

    Alright, well I’m glad at least one person knew what I was talking about. Almost a year later and I still come back to see if anyone has found anything out about my game. It’s weird that these computer games are considered vintage (I’m the same age as many of them). EEK!

  • By igralo, October 18, 2009 @ 5:11 am

    Problem with most of the above games is that they are intended for kids and at that time kids of the intended age did not have access to them. By today’s standards these games are way into the field of “boring”. Simcity is not played by youngsters so they could learn of resource management(which is not obvious anymore and is simplified on top of that) it is played by adults to lose time and this overly simplified resource management actually does harm real life performance.

    I’ve learned a lot in my life from games. I’ve learned english from games. I’ve explored many life concepts and seen other’s views on such with games in my life. However with most of the people I know it did not go that way. You still need to have the motivation to explore beyond the obvious, something most people dont.

  • By Jeremy U., November 5, 2009 @ 6:43 pm

    90s game not 80s really fun game though…lol…

  • By Cheryl Weiner, November 30, 2009 @ 4:12 pm

    Nitpicking–as far as I remember, these were not videogames, but computer games. Sim City and Zork were never marketed as educational or learning games, which let’s you know how much the educational and game communities stayed separate. And I fail to see the educational significance of Solitaire. Having been in the industry creating/producing educational games during this period, I can tell you that among the most influential educational game designer/Executive Producers were Marge Kappo, Phil Bouchard, Tom Snyder and Joyce Hakansson. Some of the great innovations were Kid’s Desk and Thinking Things by Edmark (since IBM) including Millie’s Math House and Bailey’s Book House. Not to mention, innovative games such as Pyramid, Pony Express Rider, The Fennel’s Figure Math, and Dr.Sulfer’s Lab from McGraw Hill Home Interactive. As an aside, as soon as Disney and Mattel got in the business introducing licensed brands, the deep educational innovations stopped. AND the Knowledge Adventure Jump Start series moved the whole educational gaming industry out of the realm of critical thinking into the realm of drill and practice.

  • By Dini, September 11, 2010 @ 10:07 am

    old but not forgotten….

    @maire: I searched the same game… long time ago, but now i found it:
    “Maths rescue” !! The same game with words called “Word rescue”.

  • By Igrice, May 6, 2011 @ 5:35 am

    I play one games, i think it was called Mad Max or smth, it was great !! cool post

  • By assassin's creed iv black flag best buy, April 8, 2014 @ 5:20 pm

    I’ve observed that in the world of today, video games would be the latest craze with children of all ages. Occasionally it may be impossible to drag young kids away from the activities. If you want the very best of both worlds, there are lots of educational video games for kids. Good post.

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