The Essentials of an Effective Educational Game



As the pandemic continues, nations across the world struggle how to balance safety measures and restart the economy. It's even more complicated as schools resume classes. For many states, distance learning is the safest option but it's not without its drawbacks. It's difficult enough to hold the attention of students, especially younger ones, in person. Getting them to focus through a screen is a different challenge altogether. Here's where educational games come in. They're great tools to complement regular classes. Kids can learn and have fun at the same time. But they should be well-designed to teach children.


Here are the essentials of an effective educational game:


Graphics

Whether it's a console or an app, you'll notice that they use 3-D modeling for games. It could be about basketball, adventures, or pocket monsters. No matter the genre, the most successful games have detailed and realistic graphics. They're not just impressive, but they also add to the entire experience.


For an educational game to work, it should get and hold people's attention. When it comes to kids, the best way to do so is with flashy animation. The graphics evoke curiosity. As they press and tap different buttons, they'll see what it would happen next and learn from it. For games where they have to answer questions, it can even work like a prize. They'll strive to get the answers right so the colourful graphics will appear on screen again.


Difficulty

No matter what age a player is, the level of difficulty is crucial to the success of a game. Too easy and the player will shortly lose motivation to continue playing. On the other hand, if it's too hard, they'll lose interest anyway. This is especially crucial for kids. While it's important to challenge them, it's just as important to set achievable goals. The key is to adapt the game to the kids' capabilities, not just their age. Some children are more advanced in certain aspects than others. But a well-designed game can challenge children of different levels.


Music

When it comes to games, the first thing people typically remember is the visuals. They'll think of the characters and the setting before remembering the music. But for educational games, it's important to engage different senses. This is because kids use all their senses to learn. They pick up a toy and shake it to hear the sounds it makes. Infants even try to bite their stuffed animals.


Music won't just help kids connect with the game but it can also help them learn. According to a study by Ulm University, students with high memory capacities learned more effectively with background music.


To create good background sounds, follow the classics. Mario has one of the most famous video game tracks ever. It's simple and catchy but not overwhelming. Another great example are the songs from The Legend of Zelda. If the music in Mario is uplifting and energetic, Zelda's tracks are more subdued and relaxing. If numbers are any indication, they are effective. A video on YouTube using songs from Zelda as background music for studying has over 2 million views.


Characters

For better or worse, children see themselves in the media they consume. It can be a popular singer, a fictional kid in a book, or a character in a video game. These figures help shape kids' mindset. As anyone who's been around kids knows, they like to copy what other people are saying or doing. This is because of observational learning.


The good news is that this can encourage positive behavior if done correctly. For game developers, one of the best things to do is to allow kids to customize their own characters. This can help them craft characters that look like them. Studies have shown that this can help kids' self-esteem.


Variety

At any given time, if you look at the charts on Apple's App Store or Google Play Store for Android, you'll notice that each kids' game is multifaceted. Before, a math game is simply all about adding and subtracting numbers. Today, there's more. When you earn enough points from the educational parts, you also get to save kittens and play with pups. Developers are also using side games to keep people interested. Even if the players prefer the side games over the main one, it's effective because it works like a prize. It also helps sell the game apart from others with similar concepts.

Thanks to technology, kids can learn and have fun at the same time. While these games aren't meant to replace traditional learning, they are great supplements.