The history of computer-based learning games has a story arc that rises dramatically, and then plummets steeply. In the early days of personal computers, creative minds drawn to the new medium explored a variety of approaches to learning games, ranging from behaviorist drill-and-practice exercises, to open-ended environments suitable for either exploration or construction. Early practitioners were inventing new forms, and even the fundamentally limited drill-and-practice games were infused with a measure of creative energy and humor. The late 1980s and mid 1990s were a heyday for the CDROM edutainment era. However, this era came to a crashing halt as the Internet dawned and the market for edutainment dried up in the late 1990s. Despite the downfall of the edutainment era there is new energy and perspective behind the idea of learning games. While edutainment of the 1990s style has gone, there is a new take on what learning games can be. In this era, we are finding that “making a game out of learning is most certainly not the way to approach the development of learning games. However, finding the fun in that learning” and devising ways to focus on and enhance that fun as a core game dynamic is a good strategy.
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