I gave a keynote address at the inaugural EduGaming conference last year. As part of the preparation, I made this timeline:
We are once again experiencing a rise in the popularity of games in formal education. Last time we tried that it didn’t work out so well. By looking at what was going on at the time, we can maybe learn to read the signs better and avoid having the same thing happen again. With the availability of the personal computer in the 1980s, schools began to include digital games as part of their learning technology repertoire. Some refer to the 1980s and ‘90s as the “Edutainment Era” and it followed the typical Gartner Hype Cycle to a tee, except that in this case ‘trough of disillusionment’ became a deep chasm, and games became a pariah, both in education, and in the games industry. A big part of the problem was that with very few exceptions, the games that were being designed could not live up to the claim alluded to by RAND in the ‘50s – most of the games designed simply weren’t very good. Even though the commercial games industry was already well on its way, educational game designers did not seem to be following the same path.
Have a look. If you have anything you think should be added, drop me a line.
In case you’re wondering, the timeline was made using http://timeline.knightlab.com/and google sheets. Very easy to do.