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Contrary to popular belief, video games aren’t a useless form of entertainment responsible for sucking precious time away from children and adults alike. Even generic first-person shooters such as the Call Of Duty titles could, in theory, help develop hand-eye coordination, strategic thinking, and teamwork. And there are plenty of other titles that offer similar unseen opportunities for mental growth.
However, there are also a select few titles which don’t hide their light under a bushel. These are educational games and proud of it. They’re also entertaining, with the developers knowing that combining the two so that games belong to the edutainment genre is a surefire way to get kids of all ages interested.
What follows are six educational console games that parents can buy for their offspring and be safe in the knowledge that there is an educational element embedded somewhere in the gameplay.
PS3: National Geographic Challenge!
National Geographic Challenge! allows up to four players to compete for world domination. This is accomplished by answering questions about geography and history, and claiming territories as a result. This is Risk without the warfare, where general knowledge is the only weapon available.
The game features 4,000 questions presented in a number of different ways, with anagrams, puzzles, and riddles all available to play. The experience is augmented by 60 minutes of high-def video footage and hundreds of images related to the questions.
Xbox 360: Dr. Kawashima’s Brain and Body Exercises
Dr Kawashima’s Brain and Body Exercises, known as Body and Brain Connection in the U.S., is an Xbox 360 exclusive that utilizes the full-body motion-sensing Kinect to help train both your body and brain. In terms of school lessons, this game combines physical education with basic mathematics.
Mental problems are posed, with a physical element required to answer them. The ultimate goal is to lower your “brain age” by performing better in each subsequent test. You may have previously heard of Dr. Kawashima from the Brain Training games that found a large audience on the Nintendo DS a few years ago.
Wii: My Word Coach
My Word Coach is a video game designed to help improve an individual’s verbal communication skills and increase their vocabulary. As someone who is passionate about language and the written word (believing that typos are always problematic), this game appeals on a personal level.
The game features a built-in dictionary containing 17,000 words and tests your knowledge of them using a whole host of mini games. After evaluating your level of competence and setting the difficulty level accordingly, My Word Coach can then help you improve using a subtle learning curve.
Wii U: Scribblenauts Unlimited
Scribblenauts Unlimited is the fourth title in the popular Scribblenauts series, and the first to appear on the Wii U. The game tasks you with solving problems in any way you see fit, with the words you write becoming real objects that can be used to manipulate the on-screen situation.
This is a fantastic game for students of all ages; it fosters creativity, problem-solving skills, and wordplay. There are hundreds of levels to work through, a cooperative multiplayer mode, and the chance to edit objects. Characters from the Super Mario series even make cameos.
3DS: American Mensa Academy
American Mensa Academy is, as the name suggests, a video game from American Mensa. This organization only admits the brightest people, with individuals having to prove they possess an IQ (Intelligence Quotient) higher than 98 percent of the rest of society.
Brain training games tend to eschew visual elements in an effort to appear staid and serious, but American Mensa Academy takes a different approach. There are Mensa-level challenges galore, with puzzles and mini-games covering literacy, numeracy, memory, logic, visual, and spatial skills.
DS: Big Brain Academy
Big Brain Academy has one goal at its core: to increase the size of your brain. This is achieved (hopefully, at least) by you completing a number of challenges each day designed to get your gray matter working overtime. There are 15 different activities to perform, with different games available in each.
The idea is to test yourself regularly and slowly build up the level of difficulty. These kinds of games are suitable for all ages, but Big Brain Academy is aimed primarily at younger children. Older gamers could instead use it to help beat stress and relax for a couple of minutes.
The great thing about these games is that they can be enjoyed by people of all ages. I personally love the Scribblenauts games, which get me thinking laterally while still managing to amuse. And National Geographic Challenge! features questions that even the nerdiest nerd would struggle to answer correctly.
Have you played any of the titles on this list? Do you have a favorite educational console game? Do you feel these kinds of titles offer real worth to kids who struggle to embrace education without an element of entertainment thrown into the mix? Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
Image Credit: Enokson