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Polygon’s Computer Lab week: Looking back on the best edutainment games

Illustrations: Kyle Ellingson for Polygon

If you play video games today, chances are good that your introduction to the hobby took place in a computer lab. from Oregon Road on Numbers to Knock, edutainment games offer a small dose of learning along with the joy of playtime. Computer labs are a gateway to the medium of games, providing access to technology that was not in every home – especially in the ’80s and ’90s, before smartphones became standard.

Some of the games in the computer lab aroused our sense of competition, such as The Impossible Quiz. Some games encourage us to create virtual versions of our wildest imaginations, such as Sim City and Roller Coaster Tycoon. And then there are the forbidden games – DESTRUCTION, Warcraft 3and oh-so-many graphing calculator ports — to be enjoyed with discretion, or with the rare blessing of a Cool Teacher.

In 2022, with the increased availability and mainstreaming of technology, computer labs may not feel as revolutionary and important as before. They still provide an important service to those in need, however – namely, students who want to play. This week, we honor each of those students, and the legacies of the games they played in the computer labs of yesteryear.

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