Educational Videogames for Grownups
July 6, 2011 4:18 AM   Subscribe

Educational videogames tend to be aimed at children and/or not much fun to play (and/or both). "Typing of the Dead" is a great exception. Are there other truly addictive videogames a grownup can enjoy while learning something? The subject being taught is irrelevant-- I'd just love for my gaming time to result in some sort of useful skill.

At the moment, by the way, I have easiest access to an iPad, an iPhone, and a Mac, but I'd be interested in hearing about good examples on any platform.

And I actually don't mind if the game is originally aimed at kids, as long as a grownup can still enjoy it and learn something.
posted by yankeefog to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
The Assassins Creed series is quite historically accurate I believe? It better be, I have absorbed a lot about the architecture and political climate of olden times in Italy.
posted by Iteki at 4:28 AM on July 6, 2011

I always found Number Munchers to be fun and amusing despite its low-fi graphics :-)
posted by Calzephyr at 4:54 AM on July 6, 2011

I learned much about the Chinese classic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms by playing Dynasty Warriors for the Playstation 2 and 3. It's pretty much a hack and slash game with objectives loosely based off the storyline, but fun nevertheless.
posted by nikkorizz at 5:02 AM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Oregon Trail! I still have fun playing this one 25 years on.
posted by Dr-Baa at 5:52 AM on July 6, 2011

Thanks to the Brain Age Nintendo DS game, there has been a lot of edutainment titles released for this portable gaming system. Ubisoft has cranked out several titles from foreign language trainers (My Spanish Coach, My French Coach, My Japanese Coach, My Chinese Coach), vocabulary builders (My Word Coach, Wordfish), interactive cookbooks (Gourmet Chef, My Healthy Cooking Coach), to more brain training games (Mind Quiz, Brain Challenge).

The Japanese seem to have adopted it as a teaching tool. I remember seeing this Bloomberg report of McDonalds Japan using a DS game to teach their workers the important steps of properly preparing fast food. Here's an example of how well suited this stylus touch screen system is used to teach Japanese (elementary kanji) writing.
posted by plokent at 5:56 AM on July 6, 2011

I deeply enjoyed High Tea, which is a buy-low, sell-high trading game that is also a nice introduction to the Opium Wars and colonialism. Lots of fun, very addictive.
posted by Happy Dave at 7:46 AM on July 6, 2011

The map of the colonial-era caribbean is still burned into my mind from many hours spent playing Pirates! twenty years ago. According to Wikipedia there is a 2004 remake available for lots of platforms, including Mac.

And, of course, Civilization.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 8:53 AM on July 6, 2011

This isn't exactly what you're looking for, but free rice is a vocabulary game (slowly increasing in difficulty) that donates rice to people in need through the World Hunger Program. It's fun and you feel good!
posted by Isingthebodyelectric at 12:47 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

LA Noire apparently teaches you about the geography and fashion of 1947 LA, which I'm sure is useful in many situations.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:16 PM on July 6, 2011

I really like sgt puzzles. They've all got a mathematical basis, though I suspect for most there's little outside application. On the other hand, his untangle puzzle will teach you about Planarity, and the maps one is related to graph coloring.
posted by pwnguin at 6:15 PM on July 6, 2011

Some of the Guitar Hero/Rockband games are getting increasingly aimed at actual guitar playing
posted by Jacen at 7:05 PM on July 6, 2011

It's kind of abstract, but if you really get into Street Fighter there's a whole lot of learning to read patterns in another person, and then learning to either circumvent or manipulate those patterns for personal benefit.

Of course, this relies heavily on having someone else to play with, as the AI behaves more or less erratically.
posted by DoctorFedora at 10:36 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, everybody!
posted by yankeefog at 2:52 AM on July 10, 2011

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