Too often, educational games are neither fun nor educational, and there are plenty of educational games that fail on both those counts. Without an exhaustive study of games and game designers, it's hard to pinpoint why. Do those making educational games have little experience in game design? Or do those making educational games have little experience in instructional technology? Or has the bar just been set incredibly low?
Perhaps it's that educational game designers have been targeting school districts or teachers as their audience, and as long as they're more exciting than classroom worksheets, kids really haven't complained.
But the audience is changing for educational games, in part because of the explosion of mobile and Web technologies. Parents are buying more educational games, and kids now have a larger say in what they want. And as a result, games are becoming more engaging, more whimsical -- more fun.
What's more, those who grew up playing video games are now becoming the game designers and developers -- and their bar for fun factor is high.