The 10 Least Educational Educational Games

By David Wolinsky in Daily Lists, Video Games
Tuesday, May 1, 2012 at 8:09 am
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Videogame publishers are not stupid. Ever since the advent of the game console being a household staple, those companies have exploited one clever tactic of getting parents to part with their dollars (remember, all gamers live in America) thanks to the introduction of the "educational" videogame. The inherent flaw of the genre, however, is that once kids are old enough to hold a controller, they can't really learn much from a videogame. True, there are some titles, like Bubsy's String-Theory Kaper that can nurture the intellect of adults, but these aren't the games this list looks at. Nope. I'm zeroing in on games that can't teach anybody anything.

10) Oregon Trail

Take your pick: Any edition of this game dropping knowledge bombs on the 19th-century pioneer lifestyle ultimately failed its players for not teaching them a single damn thing. Go ahead. Search your memory banks. Do you remember learning anything other than the word "dysentery," about the existence of bears, or how to name your family members funny things so the game would say, "Who Cares Who died of dysentery?" Otherwise Oregon Trail was a clothesline of ruler-smacks on your knuckles for picking the wrong time of year to leave, packing the wrong supplies, and not understanding how to cross fjords on horseback.

9) Donkey Kong Jr. Math

There are a couple reasons why this simian-soaked calculation game was unable to educate its players. Chief among them? There were no players: Among the NES' 15 launch titles, this one sold the worst. This was in the days before Metacritic, mind you, so it's amazing players knew to avoid this unplayable, fever-dream rom-hack-esque title that replaced Donkey Kong Jr.'s mechanics with swinging around to collect numbers to make sums. Or maybe people knew to stay away because it was called Donkey Kong Jr. Math.

8) Elmo's A-to-Zoo Adventure

Far be it from me to call a kids' game over its intended audiences' collective soft heads, but children hate hate hate this Wii game . It's poorly designed, has sluggish controls (and an Elmo Wii-Remote cover that interferes with its outgoing sensor), and won't let you pause it. But don't take it from me, one review on toysrus.com: "This was by far one of the worst games Ive purchased. My 2- and 3-year-old sons got tired of it after about five mins of playing... We've had it for four months and my kids cry when I put it on." Well, that would explain why every time you boot it up Elmo says, "Elmo loves you! And sadness!"

7) Sesame Street 1-2-3

For the very reasons outlined in this list's introduction, this NES game is mootness personified. Although its lessons are credible, 1-2-3 has historically been more popular with stoners vibing to the incredibly catchy soundtrack who can feel smart tackling problems like 2+2 (spoiler alert, it's 4). Even if you're too young to smoke pot, you'll feel your intelligence and sideways ponytail being bitch-slapped with insults like counting six stationary green aliens to beam away to their home planet.

6) Putt-Putt Goes to the Moon

All facetiousness aside, Putt-Putt was one of the most popular early '90s educational game series - but this entry disseminated more mis-education than education-education. Among the many misnomers represented in this game about an anthropomorphic Chevy Bel Air getting blown to the moon from a fireworks factory mishap? There's just as much gravity there as here, the moon has gas stations, beauty shops, blue women, green mud, and families of monkeys that drive floating space-cars. Right. Mainly, with Ron Gilbert at the helm as co-founder of the responsible developer, Humongous Entertainment, all kids mainly learned was how illogical adventure games are. And that's an incredibly useful life skill.

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