9 High School Learning Games

Games unite many of the most powerful initiatives in education: problem based learning, brain-based strategies, technology, collaboration, inquiry, and student engagement. If you aren't paying attention to gaming, you're missing a major transformational force for student learning.

With the help of Christine Leary, I've assembled 9 of the best technology-based learning games--a few of them are even free!


Sid Meier's Civilization V (Game of the Year Edition)

What do Napoleon wannabe's get?  

A turn-based strategy game, with the opportunity to take a civilization from prehistoric times to the future through research, diplomacy, expansion, trade, war, and economic expertise. For PC or Mac.

Buy for $14.79



What do Leon Musk wannabe's get?

Design ferris wheels, roofs, submarines, river dams, bridges, skyscrapers and other complex structures using realistic physics principles. Use a blueprints editor to make the objects resist strain without spending too much. You can even blow your design up. IOS.

Buy for $1.99 on Itunes



What do wannabe Natalie Portmans (she speaks English, Hebrew, Spanish, German, Japanese, and French) get?

Claiming to be as effective as the costly Rosetta Stone, Duolingo allows learners to practice translating real world words and sentences in 10 common languages: Spanish,  English, French, german, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Russian, Esperanto, Turkish, and Ukrainian. The interface is inviting and tracks your progress. IOS

Free on Itunes 



What do wannabe lexophiles get?

A word association puzzle game that boosts your vocabulary acquisition. The most challenging problems were created by a contributor to the New York Times Crossword Puzzle. iPhone and iPad.

Free on Itunes and in app purchases available.


Dafur is Dying

What do wannabe problem solvers get?

A flash-based online game based on research with humanitarian aid workers, players help their refugee camp function despite attacks by Janjaweed militias. Players can also learn more about the genocide in Darfur that has taken the lives of 400,000 people. Online.



Airport Tycoon 3

What do wannabe managers get?

Build and operate an international airport. Manage contracts with hotels and casinos,  security, storms warnings, and potential bottlenecks. For single players. Are you up to the challenge? PC.

Buy for $16.50


Free Rice

What do wannabe linguist-humanitarians get?

In this online quiz, ten grains of rice are donated to the UN World Food Program  for every correct word definition. Multiple choice questions get progressively harder. Track your progress. Online.




What do wannabe Henry Fords win?

Learners get a chance to buy goods on the commodity exchange and use raw materials, manufacture products and develop a business empire!  Surprise scenarios--aliens!-- occur. Online.

Free and paid version



Superbetter is a book and an app and a system designed by game designer and researcher Jane McGonigal to help you accomplish your personal goals. Think like a hero, apply game-like strategies where you don't let small set-backs keep you from achieving awesomeness. 

Book for 14.99-$17.78 and free Superbetter app.

So get your brain on and game on!

Full Disclosure: Some of the above hyperlinks are Amazon affiliate links, which means I get a small percentage of anything you buy after clicking on them--support that offsets fees for images, Mailchimp, the Thrive Wordpress Theme, freelancers to fix things I break on this site, and my addiction to caffeine. You don't get charged extra. 

You might like my funny teaching memoir, Dinkytown Braves, free on Kindle Unlimited and $10.33 as a paperback. Also check out Rethinking Classroom Design co-written with Blake Wiggs or The Best Lesson Series: Literature: 15 Master Teachers Share What Works, edited by Brian Sztabnik. Please leave a review on Amazon to make my day!

Todd Finley

Edutopia Blogger and Asst. Editor || ECU Ed Professor || Founder of Todd's Brain at www.todd-finley.com || Books: Dinkytown Braves and Rethinking Classroom Design.

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