Back in the dark ages of the late '80s and early '90s, home computers were fairly rare. In those days, gamers were forced to take their gaming opportunities where they could. Outside the shelter of an arcade, that meant the edutainment computer games that came pre-loaded on the blocky Macs which lined the walls of your school’s computer lab.
While the other kids were actually memorizing the home keys or boning up on their spreadsheet skills, educational computer games were helping a fledgling generation of gamers kill the time until the bell.
Even if you didn’t grow up to terrorize people in Call of Duty or wander the historical streets of an Assassin’s Creed game, the odds are solid you played one of these '80s and '90s edutainment games while silently praying that the teacher didn’t come by to check your work.
- 5201102Photo: The Learning Company
Only the earliest Mac aficionados will remember Reader Rabbit, a series of games released from the '80s onwards that tried to teach kids the value of language arts skills. The bright, primary colors and energetic characters of the game entertained children as young as preschoolers while also teaching them how to read.
- 618597Photo: Metaweb / GNU Free Documentation License
In its purest form, Math Blaster! is an educational version of Asteroids. Players are presented with a math problem and then barraged with a series of possible answers. Their job is to aim the cannon at the correct answer and blow it out of the sky. It was simple, addictive, and fun.
- Release: 1994
- 7148103Photo: Sega
Ultimately, Lemmings actually proved so popular that it crossed out of the computer lab and into the homes of lots of PC early adopters. Playing on the old (and patently false) notion that lemmings will walk ever-forward following the leader, the game handed players a weird assortment of tools and then demanded they guide a whole bunch of aggressively stupid lemmings safely past a series of life-ending hazards. Frustrating, creative, and brilliant, Lemmings was the beginning of a popular series of early video games.
- Release: 1991
- Developer: Rockstar North
- 898133Photo: The Learning Company
Though the protagonist of Treasure Mountain!, the vaunted Super Seeker, was the star of a lot of games in the series, this 1990 entry is the one most people remember. Were you able to traverse Treasure Mountain and recover all of the priceless treasures that were stolen? The innovative puzzle-solving and matching gameplay never failed to entertain (at least until the bell rang).
- Release: 1990
- Developer: The Learning Company