Filament games http://www.filamentgames.com/ created some educational video games, working with James Gee, author of Video Games are good for your soul (see previous blog).
Argument Wars, http://www.icivics.org/games/argument-wars, looks at legal cases. It must have been a challenging design concept. Computers aren’t good at parsing language, and this could have been a bad multiple choice game. But, by presenting possible arguments through a hand of cards, and asking players to decide which to play, and when, it make you pick a strategy. I think the cards could have been made a little more complex (larger hands, different types of cards: argument, support, evidence), but the game works, and is informative and fun.
I also liked Energy City. The first time I played I crashed and burned, but repeated play let me get more successful. It’s one of the things in their philosophy statement “Good games embrace experimentation and, by extension, failure.” It seems, with the dogged insistence on GPA that the education system at present doesn’t allow “good” kids to fail. Yet we all know that we can learn more from failure than success. By working within a framework, allowing exploration and replay we can get better – and in this case maybe learn to save the planet.
And a headline like this http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_thelookout/20110202/ts_yblog_thelookout/tree-octopus-is-latest-evidence-the-internet-is-making-kids-dumb-says-group needs to be challenged and discussed (as indeed the reporters do!)