Can Portal Lead To Better Educational Games?

Are educational games broken? Can Portal help fix them?

Speaking during a Rants session at the Games for Change conference in New York today, educators Scott Kirk (CEO, GameGurus) and Jodi Asbell-Clarke (Director, EdGE ) said perspectives like Valve's could help shed a light on the best way to make educational games more fun. Asbell-Clarke pointed to Portal's developer commentary as one of the most useful lessons she's found.

"It's magic," Asbell-Clarke said. "They're telling you why they built the pedagogy they did, what happened in the play-testing that gives you their level of learning... I've been an educator for 20 years, and I learned so much from that game."

Kirk talked about attending a UNICEF conference on education, noting that he was disappointed by the results.

"It was clear to me that the people trying to make fun games just weren't fun people," he said.

Although the pair didn't dish out any solutions to the longrunning dilemma of how to balance fun and education, they did tout the values of play-testing and other Portal-esque ideas.

Their final words of wisdom? "Make games that just don't suck."