Can Video Games Make Us Smarter? #2: The Craptacular Curse of ‘Edutainment’

What could be more educational than 'Typing of the Dead?'

This portmanteau of entertainment and education is rather a broad term. It pertains to board games, television shows (to wit: a lion savages the testicles of an elderly, incontinent zebra on the Serengeti. So enthralled are we by the macabre majesty of it all, we don’t mind that the narrator has stealthily fired a few facts at our faces regarding ecosystems and other such bollocks) and a great array of media. Whenever some bastard steadfastly attempts to attest that Hey, learning needn’t always be so tedious that we fervently wish to eat our own faces off -and deceives nobody at all, ever- that’s edutainment. Or, as we believe Fred Astaire and Frank Sinatra once said, That’s edutainment!

Our personal origin theory is that Satan, after consuming an overdose of laxatives (an ex-cess of ex-lax, if you will) to expunge a three ton backlog of log, gave birth to this entire concept in a catastrophic, and literal, shitstorm. Perhaps there’s a dearth of essential fiber in the underworld. We just don’t know. Regardless, it’s pretty well irrefutable that when video games strive to ‘edutain’ us, the suckiest suck that ever sucked will frequently be the outcome. Cork your asses, gentlemen, and we’ll take a look at a few such titles.

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And so has the GIANT FLUORESCENT GREEN DOG-THING that's pulling your coach.

Perhaps the earliest educational title we can cite is The Oregon Trail. Those that payed scant attention in history class -which is every bastard, naturellement- would do well to heed this ballache from the Seventies. It endeavors to teach us about the arduous journey the pioneers of the 19th century took in their shit-stained wagons, shooting buffalo in their massive buffalo-bollocks and other such shenanigans. It was also infuriatingly, embolism-inducingly difficult; members of your wagon trail had a penchant for dying every three-eighths of a second from hunger/boredom/too much masturbation/an infected eyelash. Or, indeed, dysentery, as this famous, unintentionally hilarious image depicts.

Shit-tastic takes on American history are the scantest of our woes. On one notorious occasion, which shall live in infamy forever, Mr Nintendo awoke feeling righteously pissed off. Perhaps somebody broke into his home, shat on the kitchen linoleum and left again. We can’t confirm the cause, but his vengeance upon the entire cosmos was Mario is Missing. This humongous vortex of dire-ness from the reaches of Lucifer’s foreskin demonstrates the sobering truth: geography is crap.

In this 1992 title, Bowser has cannily kidnapped Mario (at this juncture, his blonde princess fetish hadn’t developed its constructing a creepy sex dungeon quality). As such, his moron brother embarks on a rescue mission to the lizardman’s lair, where there are portals to innumerable real-world cities for no fathomable reason. It’s a side-scrolling, famous landmark identifying, quiz-tastic shitfest. Nonetheless, with a difficulty spectrum running the gamut from kindergarten to college, edutainment isn’t just for children. It has the capacity to bore the manmeat off of us adult-sized dudely dudes too, as Mario is Missing attests here.

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We aren't deceived by your shenanigans, Nintendo. That's Mario in a green hat, is it not? IS IT? NOT?

In summation, it is widely acknowledged that nobody wants to -god forbid!- learn shit voluntarily. In a manner akin to Mary Poppins’ spoonful of sugar, then, educational establishments will try any chicanery to keep schoolchildren engaged. In the where’s my ass-caning cane days of yore, teachers could ensure the retention of assorted facts with a sound smiting to the delicate bits. It’s surprising how much more attentive you are, even to classes entitled double algebra, with extra algebra on (plus loads of other bollocks that nobody understands) with corporal -and presumably capital- punishment to motivate you.

Today, if there’s a tedious subject to be taught, some fiend will have developed a ballache of a flash game to accompany it. (A case in point: Adventures in Sex City. Or, as we’ve dubbed it: Why Does My Dick Itch So Much? Fun With STDs) As one teacher eloquently put it, “Anything to engage today’s youths, with their internet, video games, high-speed porn and other such technology. In my day, it took fourteen hours to download a monochrome image of an overweight, toothless pensioner peeling a banana. AND she didn’t even take her top off.”

The times, they are a-changing.

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