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I'm currently creating a game framework/engine for educational games. My hope is that this can be used in elementary schools. It is of course extremely important that the games are both fun and educational.

Any ideas what should be in my initial requirement specification?

What makes a good educational game?

Which platforms should I target?

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There's at least three questions here, and I think the first two are too general / subjective to answer. The third one, "What platforms should educational games target?", may be appropriate by itself. –  user744 Sep 20 '10 at 12:43
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Hey, if you agree with me, don't vote up my comment, vote down / close the question. –  user744 Sep 22 '10 at 10:27
    
In order to answer questions 1 and 3, can you provide more information on the type(s) of video games your framework/engine (which is it?), will support? Saying you want to make an engine for "educational games" is like saying you want to make an engine for "AAA games"; Although we understand what you mean at some level, the constructs of educational and AAA games are way too broad for someone to provide sound technical advice, without additional information. –  Ari Patrick Oct 24 '10 at 20:53
    
The type of game is still undecided, but it has to be a bit narrow because the games should be created/customized by school teachers. I think there is no way around creating a game creation tool, but I'm open to new ideas. I was considering creating a specialized game language at one point, but I don't know how much sense that would make for a restricted, easy-to-use environment. –  Steinbitglis Oct 27 '10 at 1:19
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3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Avast there fellow Norwegian!

I just have a few ideas:

  • Pr. user performance reports. Can be used by teachers to evauluate who needs more follow up.

  • Easily customizable/ localizable textual content.

  • Good Teacher/student communication.

  • Multiplayer. Where the whole class can participate in engaging tasks. This will make it easier for timid children to show off their skills to the teacher. Some ideas for multiplayer games: Quiz, collaborative construction with physics simulation, collaborative puzzle solving.

  • Don't underestimate small children's requirements for quality gameplay. Remember they all get their nintendo DS at a small age.

When it comes to target, I am guessing PC would be a good target, since most school children ( at least in Norway, where you're located) have their own.

Best of luck to you!

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+1 especially for points 4 and 5 –  Lohoris Sep 21 '10 at 10:36
    
Yes, I'd go with the DS, but if for schools, it should be for PCs too. –  jokoon Sep 24 '10 at 22:04
    
I didn't mean that his target should be the DS though. Just that they're used to quality entertainment from an early age. –  Nailer Sep 25 '10 at 11:46
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I'll address the third question. I think the iPad has huge potential of educational games:

  • Accessible : The touch UI is intuitive and simple enough that most children immediately 'get it'.
  • Safe : The Apple walled garden delivers an environment that most parents are comfortable with.
  • Mobile : It is pretty clear that mobile educational devices have already enjoyed a great deal of success (Leapster etc...).
  • Nascent : There is still a lot of room on the iPad app store for educational games.
  • Decent Hardware : The iPad hardware is more than adequate for slick, well crafted educational games.
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not widespread enough, though. If your target is "make an edu game, then sell it to whoever passes by", fine, but if it's a commissioned work from a specific school or something like that, I doubt that's an option. –  Lohoris Sep 21 '10 at 10:37
    
@looris Check out this recent /. article ;) apple.slashdot.org/story/10/09/22/0440253/… –  RedBlueThing Sep 24 '10 at 5:57
    
@looris the word you are looking for is touché :P –  RedBlueThing Sep 24 '10 at 5:58
    
So you are going to sell "just to some Australian school" instead of "the whole world"? Doesn't look like a great business plan. Unless, as I said, you happen to already have a signed contract with such a school. –  Lohoris Sep 24 '10 at 8:46
    
I guess my point is that the iPad is becoming "widespread enough". Seems like a matter of time to me. –  RedBlueThing Sep 24 '10 at 14:22
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I did a lot of research into educational games during my first year of university.

The important qualities:

  • Engage the senses well (especially colour and sound)
  • A lot of breaks (a child's attention span is lower than an adult's)
  • Characters they can relate to (perhaps including a permanent "guide" on the screen)
  • Game world immersion (and control over too much immersion - keep the education on track)

I was asked to design an RPG that aided children of age 5-6 in their reading exercises. There may be some starting material in it to help you. "Learn to Read with Tremendous Speed!"

Remember to keep the "image" of the game as fun as possible in terms of appearance and direction, as this may become lost in the serious business of marketing of the game itself.

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