Gaming can be a great way to combine strategy and management skills with a rich backdrop of political and moral questions, giving kids a glimpse at the complex real-world environments they’ll be encountering in their working lives. These games explore everything from history to coding, and these games are so engaging that high schoolers will hardly notice they’re learning!
1) Airport Tycoon
This fun strategy game grabs kids’ interest and holds it so they won’t even realise that they’re learning. The aim of the game is to run your airport as efficiently as possible, tackling all those real-life problems such as budget management, managing opportunity cost and marketing. These practical skills will teach kids the skills of business strategy. It’s aimed at high school-age kids and other older students and whilst its complex structure may be too complicated for young children to get to grips with, this structure is one of its strengths when educating older kids.
2) 3rd World Farmer
“3rd World Farmer is a strategy game with a moral heart,” says Nathan Anwar, educator at Writinity and Researchpapersuk. “At the same time as educating kids about business strategies, teaching strategic thinking and planning, it offers a look at the stark reality of many subsistence farmers working in poverty around the world.”
Moral and economic choice are pitted against each other in this powerful, thought-provoking game. Poverty, economics and even environmental imperatives are in conflict, and kids have to think hard to make decisions about how they proceed.
Frontier is a fantastic game for teaching kids business strategy and economic planning skills. Buying, selling and trading are essential to getting by in this game set on the frontier of the Wild West – a rough and tumble backdrop that forces players to make ethical decisions about their business or turning to a life of crime. This game provides a history lesson to its players too, as gamers explore life on the frontier and the melting pot of characters drawn to a better life on the borders of the early United States. With some turn-based fighting thrown in when characters get into trouble, this game is fun and educational in one.
4) FireBoy And WaterGirl 3: In The Forest Temple
This problem-solving game will encourage coordination skills and thinking outside the box, and ingenious level design and fun graphics mean that kids will be engaged and entertained whilst they’re being educated. “The FireBoy And WaterGirl series are fantastic for teaching kids the power of teamwork. You need to figure out a way to have your characters work together to navigate the tricky levels of the Forest Temple,” says Adrian Lipton, writer at Draftbeyond and Gumessays.
This web-based platform allows kids to play and create text adventures, encouraging creative thinking and logical coding skills in one. The create-your-own function is so engaging kids can get lost for hours coming up with fantastical text-adventure games, learning and applying coding skills as they go. The benefits of coding skills to kids has been well documented, and the logic and systematic thought that goes into creating a fun and thorough text adventure sets kids up for taking their coding skills to the next level.
Oligarchy is a business strategy game set in the murky world of politics and natural resources. Oil is the name of the game in Oligarchy and high school-aged players adopt the role of oil tycoon in order to navigate the slippery world where business and politics overlap. It’s a fantastic learning experience for kids who are interested in geopolitics and the environment, building skills of working under pressure as multiple resources have to be managed at once in real time. The game doesn’t shy away from questions of environmental damage either and kids will be forced to face the environmental outcome of their economic decisions.
Coding, strategy and organisational skills are all prominently featured in this list of games, giving kids real-world skills and the tools to get ahead in any industry. What’s more, these games build educational features into rich moral landscapes, teaching valuable lessons about history, politics and the environment as kids play. Game on!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ashlee Jones is a recruiting manager at Essay Writing Service. She has been a high-school teacher for a decade, and loves bringing non-traditional educational tools into the classroom.