Sims/Sims II (and associated add-ons)
Academagia (the game my son is developing)
I haven't played a lot of games. But I had children..they all liked Sim City. The girls played Sims (and found the cheats.)
My son liked D&D and similar games and when I didn't want to play, he sought out new ones that he thought I might like - and spent his allowance on them. But I'd be all about making a peaceful society so he'd consign me to sitting on top of a mountain til I got tired of it. I was just not into the battles at all. Today, he and his wife have a houseful of games of all kinds..he made a board game just for her one Valentine's..he is now writing a computer based game for middle school kids...more about that later.
As soon as all my children could read, I went back to grad school in ed tech. I did tech support for faculty at ASU, and learned that Sim City is actually used in courses. I'd have to set it up for them each semester.
Then I took a graduate course from Betty Hayes, Jim Gee's wife (he did a guest presentation) on games in education. Each week we looked at games, and each of us had to present on a game that we played for at least 150 hours. I did Sims II, mostly because I was also volunteering in a program for girls that used Sims II. (In the previous year they'd used Alice, at my suggestion).
I worked on the Sandra Day O'Connor project (Our Courts) for quite some time, attended Games4Change 2 years ago as a result, and think that games have SO much potential. While we were working on this project, my department invested in a great many games so that we could play them at work..we still have the set-up in the developers' area.
I too think that Zynga games could be VERY educational and presented my thoughts at a conference this year. The audience was K-12 teachers who were worried about gaming and wanted to know what to expect down the line.
Also I have spent the last year working on a collaborative math game with high potential, I hope! We have enough data now to look for funding. btw I learned, from the G4C presentation, that the math game is a "data table based game."
Planning on having more time for this topic in the near future..
One that no one has mentioned yet is ICED, a game on immigration worldwide. I was so tickled to find out about the game at G4C, got two copies and a T-shirt, and came back to tell some kids in Arizona who are affected by these issues. Surprise - they knew all about it - had already downloaded and played it. But they were pleased with the "passport' copy that I brought them, and with the T-shirt.
Sandra Sutton Andrews, PhD
Research & Design Director
Director, ARISE (Aligning Resources to Improve Science Education)
alt^I : Applied Learning Technologies Institute
University Technology Office, Arizona State Universityhttp://alti.asu.edu