Remember how your grandparents used to tell you about how back in their day, they had to walk to and from school uphill both ways? Well now we can tell children of today about how back in our day, we didn’t have our own personal computer. In fact, we had to walk to a room that contained all of the school’s computers. In our school it was the only room with air conditioning, because everyone was super paranoid about the computers overheating and exploding. Also, most of the computer teachers we had when we were growing up knew just a tiny fraction more about computers than we did once we hit about 4th grade. Along with those dreaded typing lessons, we also got to experience some terrific computer games that helped us learn along the way. Get ready for some home row key nostalgia.
This was a game that blended a perfect amount of gameplay with learning. If you wanted to get better at the game, you had to get better at math. There was also a lot of variation in the levels. One level you would be jumping on dissolving rocks, another one you’d be building a bridge using fractions, and the next one you’d be blowing up only the asteroids that equaled the sum of 4. Not sure why it was okay to let the other numerical asteroids to pass but hey, you’re learning.
Sure there was also Number Munchers, but there was no need for extra math themed games when you already had Math Blasters. This was a very simple yet addictive game that was sort of a combination of Pac Man and Frogger. The game consisted of navigating squares while munching up words that had similar sounds all while dodging the Troggles. The best part was the intermissions where the muncher destroyed the Troggles in a G rated Mortal Kombat fatality like fashion. – You can relive this classic at this site.
Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?
Greetings Gumshoe! This game was essentially an interactive game of “Guess Who.” You would travel around the world asking witnesses for clues until you could narrow down the suspect and capture them. This game taught you about geography, and more importantly, it taught you that beautiful women can sometimes be deceitful.
The Magic School Bus Explores the Human Body
This was one of the first games that really allowed the player to explore the environment they were in. Most games up to this point only allowed you to use the arrow keys when you wanted to move a player around. The Magic School Bus Explores the Human Body allowed you to move your mouse around and click on pretty much everything you saw on the screen. You spend the majority of the game navigating through Arnold’s body where you explore the different sections of the human body. There was always the urban legend of a kid who at one time, just one time, escaped through the butt instead of the mouth.
This game is one of my earliest childhood memories. A classic game by the Super Solvers and The Learning Company who seemed to dominate the children’s computer game market in the 90s. This game featured a treasure hunter who gained clues by netting elves (for some reason) and then used the clues to find keys that allowed you to climb higher and higher up the mountain. Besides the educational questions that the elves would ask you, this game also taught us to never give up – No matter how many elves you need to capture.
Gizmos and Gadgets!
This may have not been in every single elementary school, but if you had it you were blessed with a fantastic game. You spent your time in this game solving science problems to collect different vehicle parts that you would eventually use to race the Master of Science: Morty. Better parts led to a faster vehicle. A faster vehicle led to you beating a scientist in a type of nerd drag race which always felt extremely satisfying.
At first, I honestly wasn’t sure how this game slipped through the cracks as being considered an educational game. Then I realized it confronted us with the most important lesson of all: life. No other educational game as a child exposed you to the harsh realities of sickness and health and life and death. Three of the people in your wagon party would drown in a horrific accident when trying to ford a 30-foot river and all you would see is a screen of a shallow grave letting you know they were dead.
I’ll admit that I did learn how to lead a buffalo with a bullet, and that if you shot 2,000 pounds of meat in a single hunt that some of that meat would spoil eventually when split between only four wagon members. I also learned that dysentery, measles, cholera, and typhoid fever were things that people used to die of; like all the time. Also, it taught you how to cope with your own mortality. If you died while on the trail it was kind of a bonus, because at least you got the chance to write your own tombstone where you could give yourself the name “Poop Farter” with a short tagline like “He died doing what he loved. Farting”
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