Educational video games are a great way to blend learning with entertainment. This is why they’ve been popular for decades. Many adults grew up playing these kinds of games on PCs at home, in a classroom, or at the library. Now, there is a whole new generation of educational video games for various platforms, but the computer remains the top pick for playing both modern and classic educational PC games.
Whether you were the first generation of PC video game players, or you’re the latest, you can share your love of vintage educational video games. Plus, many of the games on our list are PC exclusives that now benefit from enhanced graphics and a larger display than back in the day.
We highly recommend focusing on the PC when looking at educational video games. It offers something unique from mobile devices and allows you to play along with your friends or even your kids. To help you get started on your quest, check out our list of the 10 best educational PC games for kids.
As the tagline for the game states, Brainiversity
is "a brain training game designed to stimulate your brain!" It features more than a dozen different activities covering subjects like language, math, memory, and analysis. These activities often help to supplement a child's elementary education. For example, there’s one called “Add It Up” that tasks the players with solving as many math problems as possible within 60 seconds.
Most of these brain training activities fit within a Daily Exam mode, which allows you to record your scores in the various activities and create an online chart to view your progression. Fortunately, the game mixes work with play. A lightbulb mascot named Edison cheers you on and keeps things light and interesting through the use of humor and encouragement.
2. Math Blaster Series
An actual blast from the past, the original Math Blaster
spawned a whole franchise of games, spin-offs, and mobile titles. This series of math video games provides valuable tools to learn addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division with Blasternaut and his loyal dog, Spot.
If you're focused on building mathematical knowledge, then the original is the best pick. However, if you want your child to work on their math skills and have fun through a compelling narrative and side-scrolling gameplay akin to the Super Mario
series, consider Math Blaster Episode 1: In Search of Spot
and its sequel Math Blaster Episode II: Secret of the Lost City
3. Epistory – Typing Chronicles
A newer and rather unique educational PC game, Epistory – Typing Chronicles
lives up to its subheading by focusing solely on using a keyboard. Set in a beautifully-rendered origami world, this educational typing game follows the journey of a young writer who rides a three-tailed fox.
Along with moving around the game world, players use their keyboard to practice their typing skills and engage in combat. Battles can get intense when you have to rapidly type the name of the words that appear above an enemy's head. You can also switch strategies by typing in different commands in a fast and sequential manner.
When it comes to learning how to type quickly and properly to improve your words-per-minute score, there's no better game to play.
When Zoombinis was first released in 1996, it was widely considered one of the best educational video games for kids. Within the game, the player controls the fictional Zoombinis, who are Mr. Potato Head-like creations that need to traverse Zoombini Island to finally make it to Zombiniville, a village that brings them to safety from the evil Bloats.
The game also tasks players with solving three different types of challenges: math, deductive reasoning, and hypothesis testing. Each challenge has various minigames and allows the player to learn and experiment with a variety of puzzles. The 2015 Zoombinis remake
expands upon the original with enhanced graphics and additional puzzle types, making it a great game for you to re-experience with your kids.
5. Kerbal Space Program
One of the best resources to learn about space exploration and flight simulation is Kerbal Space Program
. This educational video game allows the players to take control of the Kerbals, a small green humanoid alien species that control a spaceport called the Kerbal Space Center on the planet Kerbin. Within the space center, players have the opportunity to build rockets and various space ships in order to blast the Kerbals off into space.
This may sound simple, but the game's focus on teaching realistic aerodynamic and orbital physics makes it a great way to teach teenagers advanced concepts within its three game modes: Science, Career, and Sandbox. The game was even endorsed by NASA
, who used the game to recreate the 2016 OSIRIS-REx asteroid sampling mission. A sequel, Kerbal Space Program 2
, is anticipated for release in 2021.
6. Minecraft: Education Edition
Even if you’re not among the millions who have played it, you’ve certainly heard of Minecraft
. But did you know there’s an educational version of the game called Minecraft: Education Edition
? It’s set within the Minecraft
universe, and many educators use it for STEM and project-based learning as well the exploration of virtual diverse regions such as the Ngā Motu belonging to the Māori people in New Zealand.
Beyond the downloadable resource packs, Minecraft: Education Edition
also includes collaborative learning tools such as the Camera, Book and Quill, and Immersive Reader to encourage an interest in reading and translating.
7. Gizmos & Gadgets!
Gizmos and Gadgets!
may be one of the most enjoyable science educational video games of all time. One of the more retro titles on this list, Gizmos & Gadgets!
was developed and published by The Learning Company in 1993. And if that company’s name looks familiar, chances are you saw it on the box for other iconic educational PC games such as Zoombinis
, The Oregon Trail
, and Reader Rabbit
However, Gizmos & Gadgets! is unique in that it pairs racing, platforming, physics-based puzzle-solving, and a rivalry between two great scientists. It all blends into an incredibly fun and immersive take on the learning video game genre.
When fighting against evil scientist Morty Maxwell, the Super Solver must build vehicles using physics and practical engineering knowledge. While the rivalry continues in other games such as Mission: T.H.I.N.K, no game better captures the wacky blend of platforming, physics, and racing than Gizmos and Gadgets!
8. World of Zoo
Whether your child has an interest in working at a zoo or simply loves animals, World of Zoo
is a great title to explore. With more than 40 different species among 11 animal families, this zoo simulation game will help children to better appreciate animals and learn what goes into taking care of them. Beyond feeding and caring for them, the game educates its players with information supplied by National Geographic
Learning about democracy is an important foundation of any child's education. Fortunately, the Democracy
series teaches children what it means to live in a modern democracy. The latest entry in the series, Democracy 4
, covers such hot-button topics as fake news and the influence of social media on democracy.
Within the game, you take control of a fictional president or prime minister, and choose various policies for your democracy with the goal of getting re-elected. The game is intended to have no impact bias, meaning that it's not about a specific political platform or ideology. Instead, the game is meant to model the impact of decision-making on a democracy and its citizens.
10. Universe Sandbox
Like Kerbal Space Program
, Universe Sandbox
is a physics-based space simulator. However, it differentiates itself by focusing solely on the physics of space itself. To do so, this space simulator has features that allow players to simulate gravity, model Earth's climate, and explore the impact of historical events on the solar system.
It also provides a top-down view of space and allows players to create their own solar systems to experiment with the various functions of the universe, such as planets that may collide and stars that supernova.
As you can see, there are many great educational PC games for kids. While it may be tempting to solely explore mobile or tablet-based educational games, PC games are often more fully realized and immersive. They also allow you to experience educational video games alongside your kids, sometimes even the same games you played as a kid!
Beyond sharing classics such as Gizmos and Gadgets!, Zoombinis, and Math Blaster, you'll also get to experience modern educational computer games such as Epistory, Minecraft: Education Edition, and Kerbal Space Program. Whether they are retro or modern, these games offer a great opportunity to experience the joy of learning.
About the Author
Daniel Horowitz is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Daniel is a New York-based author and has written for publications such as USA Today, Digital Trends, Unwinnable Magazine, and many other media outlets.