Top 10 Video Games They Should Let You Play In School

Script written by Saeed Afzal Don’t you hate putting off video games until you’re finished your homework? Well, what if your homework was playing video games? Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Games They Should Let You Play In School.

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Top 10 Games They Should Let You Play in School

Don’t you hate putting off video games until you’re finished your homework? Well, what if your homework was playing video games? Welcome to, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Games They Should Let You Play In School.

For this Top 10, we’re looking at games that aren’t typically considered “educational” but are well-made games that, either through innovative gameplay or interesting narratives, have something that everyone can learn from. These are games that belong in the classroom just as much as any classic novel or film.

#10: “The Witness” (2016)

If you’ve ever needed a true test of your puzzle-solving and deductive reasoning skills, your best bet is to end up on a mysterious, uninhabited island filled with line mazes, and try and figure out just what the heck is going on. That’s basically “The Witness” in a nutshell, a puzzle/adventure game boasting over 600 brain-busting puzzles. It’s a game that turns learning itself into a major focal point, requiring the player to revisit puzzles once they’ve learned enough to figure them out. It’s beautiful, brainy, and big, and you can get lost in it for hours.

#9: “Spore” (2008)

Video games often come pretty close to letting you play God, but Spore kicks it up a notch. From the creators of “The Sims”, “Spore” is a game that gives you control over life itself from conception to evolution to death. It’s a crash course in biology, tasking the player with creating bizarre living organisms and help them along in their evolution, taking them from itty-bitty microscopic creatures to space-faring intelligent beings with hundreds of eyeballs and feet for hands. It’s a game that requires creativity, strategy, and a healthy interest in science – and it’s a whole lot of fun.

#8: “Never Alone” (2014)

Known as “Kisima Innitchuna” in the language of the Iñupiat people, “Never Alone” combines classic 2D platforming with beautiful Indigenous folklore, presenting gamers with a familiar gameplay experience against a new, refreshing backdrop that highlights a culture so rarely explored in mainstream fiction. Aside from the enchanting storyline, it includes a number of documentary-like videos featuring cultural insights into the lives of the Iñupiaq people, making it a rich learning experience that just so happens to play like a Super Mario game. Plus, you get an adorable arctic fox as a companion!

#7: “SimCity” series (1989-)

What better class project is there than to entrust your students with the fate of a city and ask them to keep it from falling into economic ruin? Thankfully Maxis’ hit simulation series let’s you do that without causing any harm to actual cities. “SimCity” set the standard for simulation games in the 90s and even today is a fun and powerful tool for teaching lessons in city planning, urban development, and resource management. It’ll also teach you how to keep your city safe during an alien invasion, so, you’ve got all your bases covered.

#6: “Papers, Please” (2013)

Gamers love to talk about games that offer choices that “actually matter.” Well, there’s no better game to explore that concept than “Papers, Please”, a game that puts you in the tough position of being an immigration inspector who has to make tough ethical decisions regarding the families whose lives are put in your hands. Besides teaching some hard lessons in ethics, it’s perhaps best at instilling a sense of empathy in the player. “Papers, Please” is politically relevant, ethically intriguing, and will stay with you for a long time to come.

#5: “That Dragon, Cancer” (2016)

There are some lessons that aren’t part of one’s everyday curriculum. Learning to navigate grief in the wake of tragedy is an incredibly valuable life lesson, and one that is so hard to impart. And that’s where video games come in: “That Dragon, Cancer” is an immersive exploration and adventure game that puts the player through some of the emotional highs and lows that come from losing a loved one to cancer. It’s emotional, poignant, beautiful and does exactly what a good piece of literature in the classroom should do: expands the reader’s worldview and teaches them to empathize with even the darkest of tragedies.

#4: “The Stanley Parable” (2011)

“The Stanley Parable” is a unique game, and is so novel that it’s already no stranger to classrooms. The titular Stanley gets up from his desk one day to find his office building abandoned, and the player’s only companion is a narrator whose trustworthiness is questionable at best. You're able to either follow the narrator’s instructions, or act on your own choices, as the game and its many endings explore questions of free-will and agency, and does a fantastic job of questioning the role that the narrator plays in a story.

#3: “Minecraft” (2011)

It’s less of a game and more a phenomenon at this point: The open sand-box world of Minecraft is so open that it can be used for just about anything, from building sprawling cities to crafting elaborate battle arenas. When the possibilities are this endless for a game that essentially gives you unlimited virtual Legos to play and build with, it’s no surprise that this game is a huge hit in classrooms. Learning to build with your fellow classmates is a great experience in collaboration, and building some of the crazier things in the game can help teach the basics of engineering – all while being a whole lot of fun.

#2: “Valiant Hearts: The Great War” (2014)

Game writers could spend hours coming up with intricate plots for our video games, but sometimes the best stories are ripped straight from the history books. “Valiant Hearts” was inspired by letters written during World War I, and it takes that inspiration and turns it into a beautiful puzzle/adventure game that explores the terrors of war. It’s dramatic and emotional, but well-researched and accessible, which makes it the perfect example of a game that is as fun as it is impactful. “Valiant Hearts’ is a narrative gem that would make a great addition to any history classroom.

#1: “Civilization” series (1991-)

Sure, “SimCity” gave you the taste of power that comes with ruling over a city, but how would you like to seize control over an entire empire? Sid Meier’s “Civilization” is, in many ways, the perfect video game for the classroom: the gist of the series is to take control of a small basic settlement and, over the course of centuries, turn it into a thriving civilization to tower over all others. It’s a great learning tool when it comes to teaching how societies are built and what makes them thrive, and it’s got its roots in real-world history to boot. Whether expanding, exploring, exploiting, or exterminating, players have to use their brains to strategize appropriately and make sure their civilization comes out on top – and all of that puts “Civilization” at the top of our list. Well, teachers? What are you waiting for?

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