Play Smarter: Games for Learning

By Jonathon Kaufman

“Being immersed in a video game, and having your brain stimulated, can encourage creative solutions and adaptations. These beneficial ideas and thoughts can then be applied to real-life situations. The results can be surprisingly positive for individuals, communities, and society as a whole.” – Alan S. Weiss, M.D.*

In today’s world, the majority of the games that people talk about in conversation are meant strictly for entertainment, like Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Madden, Skyrim, and much more.  However, games can be so much more than just how many kills you got in Call of Duty last night.

Some of the earliest games were meant to be educational; such as Math Blaster, Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing, Oregon Trail, and Amazon Trail.  These games were not only fun, but they also taught you something.  In Mavis Beacon, you learned how to type; and Oregon Trail allowed kids to experience the hardships that settlers went through on their journey west during the Westward Expansion of the U.S.  These games are referred to as Edutainment Games and are part of an emerging genre called Serious Games.

What are Serious Games?

Serious Games are designed and played just like any other game, but they are intended to impart some form of knowledge or skill to the player, that can be applied outside of the game world.  These types of games have long been in primary and secondary education, but are growing in the private sector as organizations seek ways to improve eLearning for their employees.  More companies are using serious games as a teaching method for their employees and seeing results.

There are now games and simulators available designed to teach you about skills in leadership, negotiation, or marketing.  But, these types of games can also be used to teach other things, such as improving patient quality in hospitals or creating good habits in and around your home to save on energy costs.

Serious games are going to play an important role in the future of not just academic education, corporate business, but also be used in commercial consumer products as well.  Most people play computer games of some sort. It’s time to see games as more than entertainment and maximize their potential for making learning fun and engaging to make a difference.


*Quote sourced from: Playing Video Games Makes You Smarter, Experts Say …, (accessed August 28, 2018)

Jonathon Kaufman grew up a typical gamer kid, who turned his passion into a career. He is a graduate of  the Art Institute of California-Sacramento and holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Game Art & Design. When he is not working, he is a co-founder and instructor for Sprite Tech Labs, a community organization which seeks to encourage kids to explore their interests in game development and STEAM. He is the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer at SacTown Interactive.



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