Stealth education

Is it possible to design an entertaining video game that teaches students on the sly? “Stealth education” via gaming is the goal of Hidden Agenda. For the second year, the Liemandt Foundation is offering a $25,000 prize to a team of college students who can design a video game that teaches a middle school subject, reports Insight:

. . . final judging will be based on 70% entertainment and 30% educational value. ”The uneven split in judging criteria is crucial,” explains program director Lauren Davis. ”In the past, educational games have failed because no matter how well they taught, kids just weren`t motivated to absorb information. Children will only learn from the games they want to play.”

Last year’s winners, four students from University of Central Florida, designed an online robot battle game that teaches properties of physics and chemistry. It’s being prepared for distribution. This year’s deadline is Dec. 15.

Thanks to Mike Daley for the tip.

About Joanne


  1. One of the two major storylines of Neal Stephenson’s “The Diamond Age” is the education of a young girl by her interactive “book” (a futuristic computer in book form), involving everything from human interacton to binary programming. It follows an interesting storyline-within-a-story that makes the “education” a necessary and interesting part of “winning” the game.

  2. See also “Ender’s Game” along the same lines.

  3. Richard Ames says:

    Sit the kids down and teach them. If they get distracted, give them a short break, and then sit them down again for more lessons. Why, suddenly, does learning have to always be fun, entertaining? Educators today need perhaps to relearn for themselves that some things in life take, shall we say, effort, even hard work.

  4. I believe technology has a value in education, but it doesn’t need to dazzle or be overly simplified. A wonderful book may entertain an teach but it isn’t an education.

    Good tools aren’t built, they grow. Unfortunatly I don’t see either.

  5. Richard Brandshaft says:

    When you’re talking about how kids have should have discipline and not need to be taught by games, consider this:

    A series of games — contests — in the late 20th century improved the design of police and military pistols and the methods of using them. The games were a more effective motivator than the possibility of needing a sidearm for real.

  6. Why, suddenly, does learning have to always be fun, entertaining?

    Well, it doesn’t; but there’s no reason that fun can’t be educational. For example, I learned the geography of the Carribean from the game “Pirates!” I spent much more time playing it then was justified by the knowledge gained, but I’d have been playing video games anyway — this way I derived some benefit out of one.

    At least “Pirates!” was faux-historical. My youngest brother learned how to read so he could play “Ultima IV”.

    Yours truly,
    Jeffrey Boulier