interesting TED video about the topic boys, schools and gaming by Ali Carr-Chellman:
The speaker notes that “we must design better games” (for learning) and “educational games have less budget than World of Warcraft”. I want to add that no matter how much money you throw into the development of a “learning” game, you will utlimately fail if you try to “wrap” a textbook into a “game” box.
Good games teach you a lot of (school) topics just by being good designed. More important, good games can raise a player’s interest into those topics. And with interested students, even an average teacher can work well.
Example: take the classic Sid Meyer game series civilisation. (This game series is so good that fans re-programmed it as open source projects like Freeciv and Freecol). Those games were never designed as “learning games” sold to educators and schools. Those games were (and are) designed for and sold to gamers, in a very competitive market.
Still, those games can not only teach you a lot about topics like history, politics (and even geography), those games get you interested into those topics. Now imagine what an history teacher could do by including those games into his courses !