Here at the Classcraft team, we’re obviously big fans of gaming. And some of our fondest memories come from the learning games we played growing up in school.
We thought it’d be fun to reflect back on those classics, so we asked several team members about the educational games they remembered playing in computer labs, during recess, or even at home. Here are five that we recall from our school days.
Word Munchers / Number Munchers
Stephanie (Head of Content) says: The “Munchers” games were probably the educational games I played most in elementary school.
Word Munchers taught vowel sounds by requiring the player to move their Muncher character around a grid and eat words with the same sound as the word at the top of the screen. You’d lose points if you ate the wrong word or got caught by a Troggle monster. The game also taught parts of speech.
Number Munchers used the same concept, but with prime numbers: eat the correct answer, avoid the wrong answers, and watch out for the Troggles. The game even offered difficulty options per grade level.
Since the game’s levels grew increasingly difficult and Troggles kept the sense of urgency high (think the ghosts that chase you in Pac-Man), the Munchers game were an addicting challenge.
The Incredible Machine
Pier-Luc (Developer) says: The Incredible Machine is an awesome puzzle game where you are given a sandbox in which you have to get a ball from A to B using various objects and your own creativity. We played it in elementary school, and it was so fun we didn’t realize it was actually about improving our problem-solving skills!
The Incredible Machine had simple objectives, but the puzzles weren’t as easy as you’d first think. The game has players assembling Rube Goldberg machines from random objects. You might have to “put the ball in the hoop” using a tricky, carefully timed combination of items, like bowling balls, punching bags, or monkeys. (Yes, monkeys.)
The game even factored in conditions like gravity and air pressure. Players could place the items anywhere on the screen to start a crazy chain reaction and witness the consequences through oftentimes amusing animations. Imagine a cat landing on a seesaw and launching another feline high into the air.
The possibilities for creative solutions were endless … And that’s enough to make MacGyver (and maybe even your teacher) proud.
Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?
Shawn (CEO, co-founder) says: Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? was awesome because it combined geography with puzzle-solving and storytelling.
You had to collect clues from a crime scene and from witnesses, which in essence made you learn geography trivia. You got into geography because you were solving a case!
To solve the mystery, you had to put clues together based on the thief’s characteristics. It just so happened that the detective work involved learning facts about different countries and languages, too. Who knew learning about the real world could be so cool?
Anne-Marie (Community Manager) says: Educational games weren’t very big when I was in school. While I loved playing Mais où se cache Carmen Sandiego? at home, it wasn’t until college that I got to play games in class.
My anthropology teacher had us play Les chasseurs-cueilleurs, a Flash game where we had to make decisions for a tribe of hunters-gatherers. These decisions included choosing the best partners for those in age to marry, where to settle and when to migrate, and which activity the tribe members should take part in each week.
Even though the gameplay was simple, this game wasn’t easy! It succeeded in showcasing the importance of elders in this type of society and the difficulties they ran into trying to adapt to their environment.
I don’t remember my score (or if I did well, even!), but I do remember the trial-and-error process we had to go through to fully understand the impact of our decisions.
The Secret Island of Dr. Quandary
Stephanie says: To this day, I’m still baffled by The Secret Island of Dr. Quandary. But only because it was weird.
The Secret Island of Dr. Quandary begins with a carnival, where a simple target-shooting game ends with you transforming into a doll and teleporting to a mysterious island. As you explore your new surroundings, you solve puzzles that require various skills such as math, logic, memory, and quick reflexes.
Dr. Quandary was difficult enough to stump teenagers and “gamey” enough that they’d actually keep coming back to it. Plus, did I mention it’s weird?