One of the things that I remember as a kid most vividly are learning games. They were never presented to me that way - although they certainly were to my parents! - but I was gaining educational value from the game as I played them. I would spend hours chasing Carmen Sandiego around the world or reading all about Dinosaurs and prehistoric history in 3D Dinosaur Adventures.
These types of games have continued to persist throughout the years, though they've obviously taken many different forms. When I was still teaching, games on CoolMath.com were all the rage (are they still?) and kids would play them regularly. I don't think there is anything wrong with game-ifying some aspects of learning; in fact, there can be a great bit of merit in it. I definitely remember some random things I learned from Carmen Sandiego way more vividly than some details that were taught to me from a textbook.
All of this is to say that I discovered Erase All Kittens (EAK) via an article on Tech Crunch discussing Tesco's sponsorship of them, and I personally think their mission is great. The info blurb on the game's website describes the project as "a revolutionary game that prepares kids aged 7-13 for 21st Century degrees and careers by equipping them with professional digital skills."
The game utilizes fun, Mario-style gameplay and collectible kitten cards in order to build up confidence, creativity, and critical thinking. Parents are encouraged to play along with their child, and the way the game is laid out is supposed to make it easy to do this. There are more than 160,000 players in over 170 countries and EAK is used regularly in over 3,000 schools worldwide. Over 95% of kids want to learn more about coding after playing - which is great, considering that's the goal here!
Tesco, a British multinational groceries and general merchandise retailer, said this regarding their partnership with EAK: "We're delighted to team up with Erase All Kittens, whose work encouraging girls into coding is so vitally important in a world where digital literacy is vital to our everyday lives."
According to TechCrunch, "EAK says each teaching method on the game has been designed to spark the imagination of 7-13 year-olds, allowing players to build and fix levels using real source code. Designed to appeal to both girls and boys, EAK claims that 95% of the girls surveyed want to learn more about coding after playing the game."
This is the kind of stuff I love to see within the gaming industry. What about you - did you grow up on educational games and are there any that you play with the kiddos in your lives?