First of all: this article is meant for the peeps who got kids, or who work with kids, or who are interested in kids (no, not for you, Michael Jackson!) If you think education sucks, then have a nice day and beat it .

Okay, I'm Geoffrey and I'm a 4th/5th grade teacher from Holland. I've also been kliking around for 8 years already, but to be honest I never got past the newbie stadium. Anyways... recently I kinda discovered games as a way to help kids learning things. I believe learning should be fun, and face it... good games are fun. In this article, I want to show how you can create a game that can help kids learn by offering them a little fun as well.

The situation was this: I was teaching about the discovery voyages around 1500 (you know Columbus, Magellan, Vasco da Gama and all the others). It was very interesting, but I noticed the kids were having difficulties remembering all the places those discoverers went to. I used the world map as well, but somehow it wasn't enough. Then I had the idea of making a game to practice it! Educational and entertaining.

When you're making an edutainment game, the first thing you gotta ask yourself is: what do I really want the kids to know? The main purpose is to teach them something. If you're just making something for fun, drop it and give them Halo 2 or something. Well, in this case, my goal was for the kids to know what ways the discoverers went to, what places they visited, and if possible, what happened at those places.

Once you know the goals, you gotta think of a way to achieve those goals. My idea was to use a world map and a little boat. You could use the boat to sail to places marked on the world map, and once you got there, you would see a little bit of information about that place. That way, kids could really experience what ways those discoverers went, and they would memorize it better. Yay, we got our educational part.

But obviously, sailing around on a world map isn't really exciting, so I had to make it a little more tense. I started with some mines, floating around everywhere on the map (bouncing ball movement). If you hit one of those, your little boat goes boom and you gotta start all over. Secondly, I added an element of time. There's a timer that shows how long you take to sail to all those places, and all times are saved in a high-score list. Kids love a little competition. And finally, I added some humor to it. Some random events, like a UFO flying over the map shooting at the player, really sucky background music (what shall we do with the drunken sailor) and funny sound effects. Okay, it sounds crap, but kids love it.

So what do we have? A game that lets kids follow in the footsteps of ancient discoverers, and that lets them memorize important information from that time! It's informational, educational and funny to play, even though it looks like crap and gets ultra annoying after 15 minutes of playing. Still, the kids liked to play it, and by playing it, they finally got the idea of where places were. So the game wasn't super (at all!) but it did exactly what I had made it for: it helped my kids finally memorizing those darned places and historical events!

Conclusion: don't start with edutainment before you REALLY know what your goal is. Then you can add a good gameplay to achieve your goal and the final step is spicing it up so kids will enjoy playing it.

This is my first article here, so I hope you can use it. Maybe I'll post that game I made here someday, but I'm afraid it's not by far as good as most other games here. My point just is: it has the effect that I want on kids, and that's the whole point of creating edutainment games.

Happy learning, and merry Christmas!