Educational Games: The Big Picture Parts III and IV

In this article, game designer Sande Chen argues that commercial game developers can benefit from adapting their games for education.

[This article originally appeared on Game Design Aspect of the Month under the topic of Game-Based Learning and Mods.]

The first article in the Educational Games: The Big Picture series  on Games + Learning"Is the School Market Still Just a Mirage?", focused on the issue of getting games into the classroom.  Part II was about development funding sources.  Parts III and IV, "The Merging of Entertainment Games and GBL" and "Facing Edutainment's Dark Legacy," are about the use of entertainment games in education.

The educational potential of commercial games is exactly why educators became interested in using games in the classroom.  Commercial games have inherent educational properties that can be adapted, or modded, for classroom use.  MineCraft and Kerbal Space Program are two commercial hits that have been adapted by Teacher Gaming.

By Clarence1996 on DeviantArt


It's essentially thinking about the problem from the other side.  The first article explained the hardships and problems with making a profit targeting schools. In order to recoup costs, some companies considered selling those games made for the classroom to consumer markets.  But instead of that, what about bypassing the school market entirely?  

For entertainment developers, the educational market could be a secondary revenue stream, especially for hits that have already run their course in the entertainment market.

Read more about how entertainment companies have become educational game developers in "The Merging of Entertainment Games and GBL" and how some developers are straddling the divide by focusing on entertainment with educational value in "Facing Edutainment's Dark Legacy."


Sande Chen is a writer and game designer whose work has spanned 10 years in the industry. Her credits include 1999 IGF winner Terminus, 2007 PC RPG of the Year The Witcher, and Wizard 101. She is one of the founding members of the IGDA Game Design SIG.

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