In gamecollecting, there are many posts complaining about PC educational games being on thrift store shelves but there are few posts which talk about actually buying those games. From google searches for "educational" and "edutainment," the only post in that subreddit which mentions an educational game haul is a post I made yesterday! The PC collector's market is much smaller than the console collector's market, but not one-person small. This search prompted me to write this post.
Many people lump all edutainment in with shovelware, which feels utterly insulting. Yes, there is a lot of edutainment that is shovelware, but that is true for every genre. There are plenty of educational games that are extremely well-made, with top-notch animation and voice acting and a great variety of gameplay styles (within the main story, not even sidequests) that make them never boring. And, speaking as an adult who is years past the "peak gaming age," their simplicity is more fulfilling to me than games where I know I just can't keep up anymore. I only got back into educational games less than two months ago (after growing out of them 16 years ago) and yet I've probably spent more hours on them than any other genre during that time.
I've seen many posts talking about how there's a nostalgia spike around 20 years after a popular game comes out, when loads of people buy a game and often the price goes up. Educational games, despite peaking in sales (and, I would assume, quality) around 1999, seem to be immune to that boom. The eBay sold listings aren't very high (in price or total number), and the thrift store I went to yesterday just seemed to want to get rid of the ones they had in stock.
(Real conversation between the store managers: "CDs are 2.99 right?" "Wait, this is kids! 66 cents each." "Products with green stickers are half off this week so those are 33 cents." I had intended on buying 1 but ended up buying 8 because they were so cheap.)
This lack of interest blows my mind for a few reasons:
1) They were inescapable during my elementary school years (which overlapped with the genre's peak). Both dedicated game stores and places like Costco would have loads of them at a time. I would guess that their sales actually rivaled those of what many would consider "real" games. Surely even one ten-thousandth of the people who bought them at the time would be nostalgic for buying them again!
2) Most of them are not on Steam, GOG, or similar sites (aside from a number of the JumpStart and Blaster games which are on Selectsoft, a site nobody's even heard of), so you can't legally buy them digitally. Many peak-era educational games do work on modern computers since they were made (or updated) for Windows 98, so there isn't any extra hurdle to playing them other than buying the disc (though I did buy exclusively jewel cases yesterday because I like manuals). They also generally weren't ported to other platforms.
3) This kind of game just isn't made anymore. Edutainment stopped being made for the PC when Leapfrog and VTech got really big and since they died out over a decade ago nothing's really come to fill the void. When a genre dies there's no way to better remember it than at its peak.
So here's what I wanted to ask: why?
Is it that they're too kiddie for adults? (You could say that for a lot of non-educational games too, and yet people buy them in droves.)
Is it that they remind people of school even though most of the nostalgia audience (barring grad schoolers) doesn't have to worry about school anymore?
Is it that people are pirating them instead?
Is it that people are embarrassed that their friends with more snobbish tastes might see the games?
Is it that people simply forgot the games even existed?
Am I just crazy for saying they are actually good?
Source: Original link
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