5 Video Games With Educational Value For Kids To Play Whilst In Lock Down
With the schools now closed, the kids are at home… and possibly already driving you crazy… Whilst I’m sure they have school work to do, that isn’t going to take up all of their time, which means finding something else to entertain them. Rather than giving up and sitting them in front of Netflix, you could let them play video games. But then, you also want them to learn, and that’s where our list comes in.
Video games are not all shooting and violence. Some can be really handy as sneaky educational tools as well. We’ve picked out five games which you can let your kids play, or even play along with them, that are fun, but also have some educational value.
Planet Zoo – PC
You can’t get out to the zoo at the moment, so why not build your own! The game comes from the developers of Planet Coaster & Zoo Tycoon, and allows you to construct your very own animal park for a wide variety of furry (and not so furry) critters.
Planet Zoo offers a variety of modes. You can help out existing zoos, fixing problems to make them profitable. You can set up your own franchise, creating a network of parks, and trading animals with other players. Or for those of you that just like to build, there is a creative mode, giving you open access to everything in the game, allowing you to build the zoo of your dreams.
The game comes with the same sort of piece-by-piece construction tools you saw in Planet Coaster, which has allowed people to make some pretty spectacular habitats for their animals and services for their guests. All of these can be shared online via the Steam Workshop. And if there isn’t enough in the base game for you, they have also released the Arctic Pack, added a whole new set of animals and stuff for you to play with.
For parents bothered by kids spending too much time gaming, it is also educational. Each animal comes with details stats and information about where, and how, they live. So they’re not just gaming, they are also learning!
You can buy Planet Zoo on Steam right now.
Oxygen Not Included – PC
From Klei Entertainment, the people that brought you Don’t Starve, comes Oxygen Not Included, a space-colony simulation game which sees you take control of an adorable bunch of “dupes” as they mine-out a home for themselves in a variety of harsh environments.
Scarcities of oxygen, warmth and sustenance are constant threats to your colony’s survival, as you build your base on a subterranean asteroid. That means creating everything from plumbing and power systems, and the all-important oxygen, alongside providing leisure activities to keep your populous entertained.
For the parents reading this, it is another game with some educational value. Whilst the plant and minerals in the game are not really accurate to the real world, it does go some way to teach about the principles behind Newton’s law of heating/cooling, along with the properties of gases and elements.
Civilization VI – PC/Mac, Switch, PS4, Xbox One
Ahh yes… the time-draining, just… one… more… turn… of Civilization VI. Since 1991, the Civilization turn-based strategy game series has been sucking hours of gamers lives as they attempt to build an empire to stand the test of time.
This latest iteration offers new ways to interact with your world, expand your empire across the map, advance your culture, and compete against history’s greatest leaders to build a civilization that will stand the test of time. As ever, you can play a wide range of historical leaders, from Queen Victoria to Cleopatra to Gandhi.
Once again, there is some educational value to the game. You are obviously building your own world, so the historical actions of the leaders are not accurate (don’t Gandhi near the nukes!) However, it can help teach broader world history, geography, economics, scientific and civic progress, and consequences of war.
Cities Skylines – PC/Mac, Switch, PS4, Xbox One
If you fancy getting into city engineering and urban planning, Cities Skylines is a great way to learn. The game is a modern take on the classic city simulation, as you become mayor of a virtual city, building roads, zoning areas, budgeting and providing services to your population.
By listening to the demands of your citizens, you have to carefully grow your little village into a giant metropolis, without blowing all money and spiralling into debt. It’s a great way of learning about the basics of city planning, and how you build your infrastructure affects everything from emergency services to traffic and population growth.
Kerbal Space Program – PC/Mac, PS4, Xbox One
Kerbal Space Program gives you everything you need for the aspiring astronaut in your life. In the game, you take charge of the space program for the alien race known as the Kerbals. You have access to an array of parts to assemble fully-functional spacecraft that flies (or doesn’t) based on realistic aerodynamic and orbital physics.
It is a fantastic way for kids to learn maths, physic and engineering, all whilst trying to reach the stars. It’s not rocket science… Oh, yes, actually that’s exactly what it is!
Dave has over 20 years experience in the digital industry, and is founder and editor of Geektown. Obviously a huge geek himself, he can often be found in front of the latest tv show or movie, on various video games, or with his head in a comic book.