7 Best Educational PC Video Games for Kids (2022)
Discover educational video games to get your child to learn through entertainment and fun. We outline the seven top games for PC in our guide.
What are educational video games?
Video games are one of the most popular forms of entertainment these days. Estimates show that by 2025, the global market will rise to about US$268.8 billion annually – notably more than the $175 billion in 2022. An increasing number of these games are educational.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but video games teach a variety of skills:
- Patience and perseverance
- Critical thinking
- Experiential learning
- Social skills
Pairing these skills with more subject-oriented material will have your child learning and willing to learn, free from the dryness of a textbook. Games show your kids that education can be fun and could lead to a desire for lifelong learning.
How long have these games been around?
Educational game titles have been around since the late 1960s (Logo Programming, 1967) but kicked off in the early eighties and have become increasingly prevalent with global titles such as:
- Little Big Planet (PlayStation)
Incorporate video games into learning
One of the best things about educational games is that they usually don't seem academic. In most cases, getting a child to play a video game won't be difficult. Ask your child to help you with something on the PC or show you how to do something, and then you can leave them to it once they have the basics. A positive learner-based situation that isn't oppressive or forced.
Are educational video games proven to work?
- Player engagement
- Risk-taking in a safe environment
- Graceful failure
- Ability to transfer learning to the real world
What are the 7 best educational games?
There are literally hundreds of educational games for:
- Young learners
- Most popular
All these games in our list are available on PC or through your internet browser.
1) Best for Math: Prodigy Math (Grades 1-8)
Math is one of the most challenging subjects to get children interested in. Prodigy has done an excellent job of keeping students engaged and learning. Prodigy Math takes your child on an adventure in a fantasy world, casting spells. Your child will need to use their math skills to level up.
Prodigy Math Pros:
- Fun and very engaging
- Progressive learning
- Visually good
- Easy to use
Prodigy Math Cons:
- Premium membership - may create friction if you're on the free plan as limited options
- Learners might be distracted by buying new costumes rather than learning
- This could lead to peer pressure due to outfits showing who has what
- Excessive screen time
2) Best for Geography and History: Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?
In Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego, the Crown Jewels have been stolen. Learners use a magnifying glass to ask witnesses questions and use the clues to travel around the world to find the thief - Carmen Sandiego. Children learn the names of capital cities, landmarks, and other historical and geographical facts. The game is very simply put together but is quite fun.
Carmen Sandiego Pros:
- Free to play
- Interesting and fun
- Easy to play so that you can focus on the geography
Carmen Sandiego Cons:
- Suitable for children with a grade 4 reading level
3) Best for Science: Kerbal Space Program
Kids learn physics, math, the solar system, and the basics of aerospace engineering in Kerbal Space Program. Straightaway, children must build a rocket ship to get the aliens called Kerbals up into space. They must use realistic designs to get off the ground. You can explore the universe, build spaceships and space stations, and build bases. Kerbal has three levels:
- Sandbox: a free play area with no specific goals except to hone skills
- Science: develop new technology and advance the species
- Career: take control of and manage the whole space program
- Engaging and very well designed
- Realistic and fun
- Difficult enough to need real thought but not dispiriting
- Has expansion packs
- No Free to try option
- Suitable for children 11 and up
4) Best for English skills: Letters- a written adventure
In Letters, kids will learn through practicing English language skills in an easy-going and fun way. Learners journey back in time to the 1990s and go through letters learning all about Sarah as she grows up. Then go online in the 2000s to witness her teenage years. The players shape her future-making decisions on how she deals with everyday and family life. The player uses words to help her grow up and change her future.
- Relatively cheap through Steam
- Has two fun expansions
- Relatable for teenagers
- Branching storyline- discover new things with each playthrough
- Easy playability
- Beautiful imagery
- Some puzzles are too easy
- 'Hidden word' aspect can be a bit boring
- Considers some heavy themes- but these are handled sincerely
- Only available through Steam
5) Best for fun: Minecraft
Minecraft teaches a bit of everything. Your child will learn to solve problems, collaborate, improve reading and math, and be more creative. Minecraft is a world-building game where players explore, gather resources, make tools, and battle in some tame combat. The game has five different ways for players to approach the game:
Minecraft teaches teamwork and motivates kids to improve reading and math skills. There is even the Minecraft Education edition.
- Thousands of mods giving near-infinite content for creativity
- Can collaborate with friends, encourages teamwork
- Kids can learn to code and improve math skills
- Kids learn how to manage resources
- No in-game tutorials
- Not for impatient people
- Can be very time consuming
6) Best for Mystery: Nancy Drew Interactive Series
Your child will learn about historical events and figures, foreign languages, cultures, languages and customs, critical thinking skills, and thinking critically in Nancy Drew. Your child also knows how to separate facts from opinion and how to sort what is relevant and irrelevant information. You play as Nancy Drew, an amateur sleuth, and must solve a mystery located in different parts of the globe.
Nancy Drew Pros:
- More than thirty adventures
- Engaging and satisfyingly difficult
- Very well-detailed covering a variety of subjects in depth
- Sews the seeds of STEM
Nancy Drew Cons:
- It can end up being expensive with 33 titles
- Some tasks can be frustrating and time-consuming
7) For older kids: Age of Empires III
Age of Empires is a history-based game for older kids (13 and over/ Rated TEEN). Your teen will develop an empire to last the ages. There are more than 200 hours of gameplay and 1000 years of history, so there is plenty to learn about the human capacity to advance. They will learn finances, resource accumulation, and the necessary infrastructure for a thriving society. With 35 original civilizations and frequent add-ons, there's much to learn and many ways to learn it.
Age of Empires Pros:
- Lots of fun for teens and adults
- Engaging and great for focus
- For bilingual kids, they can keep up the second language from one of the 15 available on the system.
Age of Empires Cons:
- Some mild violence (from a distance)
- Some mild language
To sum up, these are just a few of some amazing games you can find to help your child learn through fun. The games are colorful, entertaining, informative, and engaging. Some games for specific subjects, like Nancy Drew and Minecraft, cover several at once. Education games are an excellent option for home-schooling, stormy days and nights, and when it's just too hot to play outside to keep your child engaged and wanting to learn.
Patrick Yu is a Senior Project Manager at Level Interactive and has 8 years of experience writing business, legal, lifestyle, gaming, and technology articles. He is a significant contributor to Acer Corner and is currently based in Taipei, Taiwan.