Who doesn’t remember playing in the computer lab in elementary school (besides people over 40)? We learned that almost anything could look like learning. When writing and researching the new textbook Fake Science 101, author Phil Edwards uncovered a treasure trove of attempts to make learning fun, and his finds include these classic computer-room games. Though they didn’t all make it into the textbook, they did make it into this list.
1. Taxonomy: Classifying species has never been fun, and though this game didn’t change that, it did add sound effects and a few buttons. Students who reached the final level got a chance to place themselves in the genus for loneliness.
2. Where in Jail Is Carmen Sandiego?: After being found with a copy of the Mona Lisa in Guatemala, Carmen Sandiego was sent to a maximum security federal prison in Colorado. Players help her complete menial tasks, forge alliances among non-fedora wearing gangs of inmates, and earn her GED.
3. Mavis Beacon Takes a Few Minutes for Herself: A woman can’t spend her entire life teaching typing. In this game, players help Mavis Beacon catch up on a month-old copy of The Atlantic, listen in as she calls her old college friend Allison, and take a bath with those nice soaps she found on sale at Marshalls.
4. Dysentery!: When the publishers of Oregon Trail discovered that dysentery was the most-used feature in their game, they immediately adapted it into a new educational experience. Players were treated to colon inflammation and painful deaths, with short breaks to hunt 2,200 pounds of buffalo that they couldn’t eat.
5. Emotional Issue Munchers: After Number Munchers and Word Munchers, the munchers began to work through some serious psychological baggage. In this hit game, students learned which emotions the munchers were avoiding through food.