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Playpower and Learning Game Lists

Learning Game Lists

Simple iPhone learning games: Bookworm and Lights Off

Simple iPhone learning games: Bookworm and Lights Off

What learning games designs are most relevant to affordable, constrained computers? What games should the Playpower project be looking at?

  1. Learning games that are classics, with simple, influential designs (e.g. Math Blaster, Oregon Trail)
  2. Learning games for Famiclones (e.g. Typing School, Music Board)
  3. Learning games for related platforms such as the Famicom / NES (e.g. Big Bird’s Hide and Speak, Donkey Kong Jr. Math)
  4. Learning games for similar architectures such as the Commodore 64 or AppleII
  5. Learning games implemented on in a simple style on contemporary platforms such as Flash web apps or iPhone apps (Bookworm, SPiN, Geared)
  6. Universal memorization designs (e.g. Concentration, Simon)
  7. Universal simple interaction designs (e.g. Lights Out, Conway’s Life)

Which games someone feels are most relevant  depends on practical issues but also learning philosophy.

On the practical side: Could a given gave even run on a Playpower 8-bit? What is the difficulty of porting / reimplementing / reimagining the original design? On the philosophical side: What counts as a learning game? That is, what is your philosophy of learning? If, like Raph Koster, you subscribe to the very broad view that almost all games are fundamentally about learning, then the question is a categorical one (“Which games are learning games?”) but a strategic one (“Which games are best at promoting the kind of learning I think is important for this audience?”).

Your focus may be on the “three R’s”… or it may be on re-imagining “Brain Age” style cognitive-drill games… or it may be on enabling open ended learning through Logo programming or interactive cellular automata. Regardless, we are going to be assembling lists of existing concepts, designs, and products that address the potential of interactive learning on constrained computing platforms.

8-bit Learning Games: Oregon Trail, Donkey Kong Jr. Math, Typing Tutor

8-bit Learning Games: Oregon Trail, Donkey Kong Jr. Math, Typing Tutor

Below are a few lists to get started (some more relevant than others). Interestingly, there are some that show up in several different kinds of lists.


Educational Games Research has featured a number of popular lists, including:

NESguide: Educational/Children Games

The Top Educational iPhone Apps

Our collaborators at the CMU Game Research Library have been remixing some of these lists, and also building their own, such as: “Non-Educational” Educational Games

On the community forum, Noah Vawter has started looking at Commodore 64 typing tutors

…and we’re looking for more!

(Reblogged from


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