Chocolate Covered Broccoli?

What's The Secret Sauce To A Great Educational Game?

by Annie Murphy Paul

Ms. Paul’s blog post highlights the research conducted by Jacob Habgood and Shaaron Ainsworth, two researchers from the University of Nottingham in England, who wanted “to find out whether children could detect such subterfuge, and whether they benefited more from lessons that masquerade as games—or from games that make learning an end in itself.”  Their research showed that children who played a math game that use intrinsic reward tested better than those who played a game that used extrinsic reward.


Okay, in the old days when I was a kid in school, we played games in the classroom in order to practice a newly introduced concept, principle or skill.  Teachers used team competitions, relay-races,  scavenger hunts, variations of hot-potato and baseball, even a knock-off of Jeopardy to help us practice what we learned in a more engaging way.  If implemented correctly, there was a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic reward, and for a few moments, we students forgot that we were stuck in a classroom.  This was before the age of video games.  These days, the holy grail quest to create educational games that inspire commitment and devotion in the same manner as do entertainment role-playing video games seems to result in a lot of  “chocolate covered broccoli.”

Sadly, there seems to be many “chocolate covered broccoli” online financial games on the Web.  Most of the online games we’ve investigated present more as interactive activities than flow-inducing games.  What has been your experience with educational games, especially those that teach financial literacy?  If you’ve identified engaging financial games, please tell us about them.