The best educational games of 2021

The best educational games of 2021

Learning through gaming is an ancient and consolidated method, and is also reflected in the educational games available on the videogame market. Through fun and imagination, children, teenagers and even adults can learn important notions or can train their skills. Whether you are parents who want to support the return to school of their children and teenagers or you are simply people who want to keep their minds in shape with playful activities, you have ended up in the right place: in this practical buying guide you will find the best educational games for all palates.

Video games, thanks to their interactivity, are able to catalyze the attention of their users who become the absolute protagonists of a story or an activity. In this way, those titles that have educational content are able to breach learning through the game mechanics. The best educational games can teach math, logic or history, or they can stimulate the imagination, they can teach the sense of teamwork and planning, they can convey the values ​​of friendship and respect, they can introduce to drawing or programming, and can even teach you to manage emotions, time or savings. To make it easier for you to choose the best educational game, in this article we have also highlighted the PEGI classification, which is the minimum age recommended by Europe.

Before moving on to the list of the best educational games, do not forget to consult also guides to the best games for kids, the best Nintendo games and the best budget gaming desks.

The best educational games

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Minecraft Dreams Age of Empires 4 Humankind Assassin's Creed Discovery Tour: Viking Age Big Brain Academy: Challenge of Minds Nintendo LABO Video Game Lab

Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Platform: Nintendo Switch PEGI 3 Animal Crossing New Horizons is the leading video game of 2020, bought and played by everyone during the first hard months of the pandemic thanks to its therapeutic power to bring gamers to a happy island to be built, populated by cute anthropomorphic animals. Sure, Animal Crossing is a game suitable for families and children, but what does it have to do with the best educational games? Beyond its sandbox dimension that allows players to let their imagination run wild, the mechanics of Animal Crossing New Horizons are structured to force players to manage savings and debts, as well as plan their time and priorities. . In some contexts the game is also capable of transmitting the values ​​of friendship but above all it allows players to learn to manage their emotions: for example, what to do when your best friend in the game confesses to you that he wants to leave your island for new ones. adventures? Let him go for his happiness or force him to stay with you? Also take advantage of offers on the all-new content-packed Happy Home Paradise DLC.

» Click here to buy Animal Crossing + Sanrio Amiibo Cards on Amazon


Platform: PS4, Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, Android, iOS PEGI 7 Minecraft does it seriously need any introduction? It has been a decade since this title has been very popular with young and old alike. When it comes to sandboxes and educational games that stimulate the imagination, one cannot help but think of Minecraft, a title that combines the freedom of LEGO bricks with an imaginary world made of endless wastes, infinite dungeons, monsters, villages and magic. Minecraft develops the creativity of its players, and in more advanced stages it also allows you to train your logic well: to create certain machines you need to make logical connections with "electrical" circuits. Last but not least, playing with friends can greatly develop the sense of teamwork: what could be better than creating a mammoth building together, for example?

» Click here to buy Minecraft for PC on Amazon

Age of Empires 4

Platform: PC PEGI 12 Age of Empires 4 is probably one of the few games in which you learn a lot through the art of war: it is a real-time strategy video game belonging to a saga which made the history of the video game and which at the turn of the 90s and 2000s educated at least a couple of generations on the history of civilizations. The fourth chapter marks the return of Age of Empires among video games, after at least a decade of absence from the shelves, with new notions on the medieval period of humanity, from the point of view of 8 different civilizations: Chinese, Mongols, Delhi Sultanate , Abbasid Dynasty, British, French, Holy Roman Empire and Grand Duchy of Moscow. Beyond historical notions, a video game of this type trains reflexes and multi-tasking skills, helps strategic thinking and a competitive spirit, and is certainly effective in learning to manage one's resources and time. If you want you could also fall back on the previous Age of Empires chapters just restored.

» Click here to buy Age of Empires 4 Digital Deluxe on Instant Gaming

» Click here to buy Age of Empires 2 Definitive Edition on Amazon

»Click here for buy Age of Empires 3 Definitive Edition on Amazon


Platform: PC, Stadia PEGI 12 If you or your kids are passionate about history, you can't miss the new Humankind, video game turn-based strategy that traces the history of humanity and the development of civilizations. Notions of history, geography and geopolitics are discovered by the player from turn to turn or by browsing the game encyclopedia, and are sometimes told by an affable voice with ironic intentions. Be careful because the video game is currently not available in Italian, so if you are buying it for your kids, make sure they have good English grades at school! Beyond mere scholarly interest, Humankind is a turn-based strategy video game, which means a strong emphasis on layered thinking and planning. There is no shortage of resource management phases, as well as moral dilemmas to solve.

Assassin's Creed Discovery Tour: Viking Age

Platform : PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S, PC, Stadia PEGI 18 Wait a minute… what's a PEGI 18 game from a famous bloody saga of educational games doing? Assassin's Creed, while being an action game with RPG and stealth components, has a semblance of historical accuracy communicated through the storytelling and the setting itself that is truly appreciable, but that's not why such a game ended up in this guide. . Ubisoft's game, from Assassin's Creed Origins, has decided to push the culture pedal through the Discovery Tour initiatives, educational experiences that lead players to explore the history and culture of a certain chapter of the saga. The latest video game released, Assassin's Creed Valhalla, has the age of the Vikings as its Discovery Tour, just as in the previous Origins we explore the age of the ancient Egyptians and in Odyssey we leave for Ancient Greece. Obviously such insights are not recommended for a minor audience, but in short, we all know that even as adults you never stop learning.

» Click here to buy Assassin's Creed: Odyssey on Amazon

Big Brain Academy: Challenge of Minds

Platform: Nintendo Switch PEGI 3 If you prefer traditional methods of learning, the best way to train the mind through educational games is certainly the Big Brain Academy and Brain Training series, a successful Nintendo series that over time has consolidated its fame. The latest video game in the saga is Big Brain Academy: Challenge Between Minds, out on December 3, 2021, but Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training is still very popular on the Nintendo Switch. Games of this type are an eternal quiz of logical, mathematical and mnemonic questions that keep the mind constantly trained. The games keep track of your results, showing you how over time, with the right amount of exercises, you will be able to have an increasingly trained and more agile mind. Brain Training and Big Brain Academy are suitable for all ages, but you will notice their effects clearly especially with the youngest and the oldest.

Nintendo LABO

Platform: Nintendo Switch PEGI 3, 7 or 12 depending on the kit If, on the other hand, you prefer that physical supports are also included in the learning of educational games, you cannot do without Nintendo LABO, a video game that develops on Augmented Reality with cardboard supports able to stimulate the imagination and creativity of its players. in the most unthinkable ways. By learning the basics of programming and applying them to physical objects, Nintendo LABO players will enjoy learning the rationale of video game development and applying them to their actual handcrafted creations. Beware of the many kits made available by Nintendo, there is really something to be missed! There's even a VR kit.

» Click here to buy Nintendo LABO Vehicle Kit on Amazon

» Click here to buy Nintendo LABO Kit VR on Amazon

Video Game Laboratory

Platform: Nintendo Switch PEGI 7 Still remaining in the Nintendo field, to really learn how to develop video games you could do relying on one of the most original educational games in this guide: Videogame Lab, a guided environment to start understanding how object-oriented programming and visual scripting works, with a little math and logic, essential elements for learning to design video games. The joyful and colorful environment created by Nintendo with this title allows for easy learning guided by real puzzle games, passing through all the necessary moments of development, from conception to actual design up to bug-fixing. The game obviously also allows you to better express your creativity after having taught the fundamentals, and the results are shareable and playable with other people.

What are educational games?

There is no real scientific definition for an educational game. The videogame as a medium is a form of active entertainment, which provides a high attention threshold of its users and their physical and mental participation: in this sense, every game can really be educational in its own way, now training the reflexes, now teaching specific concepts. However, there are specific games that have been created precisely with the purpose of learning: let's talk, for example, of Brain Training, ideal for training the mind or for assimilating basic notions of mathematics and logic through daily exercise, or let's talk about Videogame laboratory, whose specific task is to teach how to develop a videogame.

Due to their participatory nature, videogames are really excellent learning companions. Who is writing this guide, as probably most of the players of the 90s, has learned to understand the English language thanks also to the support provided by video games not available in Italian: combined with the rules learned at school, these video games have become an excellent training ground to exercise understanding of the foreign language.

Our choice of the best educational games

Today, after many years of studying and evolving the videogame as a medium, the same developers of video games are fully aware of the potential of this type of entertainment also in the intent to educate: learning by playing is the most effective and fastest way to learn new concepts. In fact, more and more video games are created either with the specific task of educating in some selected field, or with accessory features such as game encyclopedias capable of leaving their mark, or even with mechanics whose effect is in some way linked to learning specific skills, whether they are reflexes, the management of resources or the management of one's own emotional sphere.

In this guide we have selected titles that present at least one of the characteristics listed above: using some examples, we have placed in the list video games like Big Brain Academy that help train the mind, titles like Humankind or Assassin's Creed Discovery Tour that have been developed with the secondary intent of deepening cultural knowledge, and games like Minecraft or Dreams that through their mechanics are able to tickle the creativity of its players.

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