ExoDOS, a project we profiled last year to catalogue and preserve every MS-DOS game ever released, is doing something special in these new and trying times: rounding up all their collected educational games and distributing them with notes and tips for parents.
This is some essential shit! My wife and I (mostly my wife, since I’m doing this) are entering our third week of home-schooling our kids Mon-Fri in the wake of our local school closures, and finding stuff for them to do and keep them interested/occupied is a nightmare. Every little thing helps, from Australia’s national broadcaster switching to educational programming to the Chromebooks we were able to borrow from their school, and this bundle may end up helping quite a bit!
Called Exo’s Retro Learning Pack, it includes 299 MS-DOS titles and 368 Windows 3.x games, and every title includes box art, screenshots, a description of what it’s about and even background information on what stuff this game will be teaching your kids, whether it’s math, history, literacy, you name it. With their own Launchbox launcher (pictured below), you should have little trouble running this on a modern Windows PC.
“The purpose is to provide families a way to educate and entertain their children during a time when the school system is unable to provide their services,” exo tells me. “Many adults grew up on these games, and I believe it gives them something to enjoy with their kids, just as we enjoy sharing the movies and books we grew up on. While folks can debate for days as to how modern games compare to older ones, I don’t think there is much of an argument to be made for current educational software.
“The apps my kids have on their tablets are very one-dimensional while often pushing ads in their face. There is nothing that allows my kids to sit on a team together and try to get their wagon across the United States, or solve all of the puzzle’s in Dr. Brain’s castle. Even modern paid software like ABC Mouse boils down to simplistic flash style animations.”
As with the exoDOS collection at large, the vast majority of these titles, while once sitting proudly on store shelves across the world, are no longer commercially available. “Unlike games, there has been very little effort to preserve these titles,” exo says. “So like all of my projects, the act of making these titles usable and distributing them is preservation in of itself.”
Some of the games included in the bundle are The Oregon Trail, Jones in the Fast Lane, Math Munchers, and several titles from the Carmen Sandiego series. As for age groups, there are titles suitable for toddlers right through to upper elementary school.