I want to take a minute to differentiate between authentic and educational games. In my opinion, many educational games fail in engaging the students in a meaningful and lasting way. Yes, students may take the turns and go through the game, but they don’t enjoy and get involved with educational games in the same manner they do with authentic games. That is because the engagement is not the same, they do not internalize those curricular pieces to the same degree as they do with authentic games.

If you bring to the table an authentic game, which also happens to have curricular connections, then you have something powerful. Students can see through educational games as another worksheet in disguise and they can get put off. With authentic games, the students are eager to succeed at the game and to do so they utilize the curricular, social and life skills that are a part of the game.

It is the same power that drives “real world” connections in the classroom. As educators, we try to make real world connections so that what we are teaching has context and takes on meaning with the students. Games create that context through well developed themes and meaning materializes as they strive to succeed.

I don’t mean to be down on “educational” games, but too often they miss the mark.