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Creative Games sans Violence? 604

jolyon_jnr asks: "I'm looking for games to use in an unusual educational setting: a school within a Juvenile Detention Centre. I don't set policy, so the 'no violence' is a fixed criteria. I want to engage students' creativity and problem solving skills, without using 'boring educational software'. I've thought of Lemmings and The Incredible Machine. What other suggestions can you offer? Please bear in mind that most students have very low literacy levels, but will learn if motivated sufficiently."
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Creative Games sans Violence?

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  • hmmm (Score:3, Informative)

    by TechnoVooDooDaddy ( 470187 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:07AM (#2273031) Homepage
    any of the Sim-lines (SimCity, SimRollercoaster, SimGolf, etc..)

    • Re:hmmm (Score:5, Interesting)

      by garcia ( 6573 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:17AM (#2273111)
      I wonder if The Sims would have a good or bad impact on them. Would they want to have the families fail and fight or would they learn from the positive growth of the people within the game?

      It would be interesting to see how each child would react.
    • by ct ( 85606 )
      Don't tell me I'm the only one who built up a metropolis only to save it then unleash my choice of natural disaster again & again.

      Godzilla & a twister going head to head was always entertaining for about 3 minutes...

    • It is still fun to build a whole city and then turn on all disasters and monsters only to watch it burn to hell :)
  • Mindrover (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Evangelion ( 2145 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:08AM (#2273036) Homepage

    Cognitoy [] makes an excellent (and engrossing) game called Mindrover, in which you have to design and program a vehicular robot to do certain things (follow waypoints, chase another robot, or destroy the opposing robot).

    I don't know if a vehicle-on-vehicle rocket launcher qualifies as 'violence' or not (since these are very clearly toy robots going at it), but it's certainly an awesome game, even apart from it's educational value.

    Loki [] has also ported it to Linux, and thier port is flawless.
  • by Spagornasm ( 444846 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:08AM (#2273042) Homepage
    Did you consider any of the Myst series? Those can engage the eye candy requirement, and also help them develop complex problem solving skills...that is, if they understand different bases and number theory :-)...
    • Well, if you don't make any mistakes in the Myst games, there is no physical violence (other than an occasional imprisonment). But if you make a mistake, watch out!

      In Riven you can get shot dead. In Exile you get your brains bashed in.

      I just finished playing Exile a few days ago. I made a mistake. I trusted the poor guy. Then he rushes up and bashes my brains in with a stone axe. The rest of the game was quite peaceful, mellow, psychodelic, etc, so when this happened it was quite a shock. Very violent in the context of the game.
  • Low literacy levels? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by liquidweb ( 154468 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:09AM (#2273044) Homepage
    To suggest a solution as well as a direct statement of their literacy, I'd suggest anything in the "You Don't Know Jack" series. Seriously though good stuff.
    • by JabberWokky ( 19442 ) <> on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:25AM (#2273166) Homepage Journal
      The biggest problem with any trivia game is that it requires that you learn the trivia in your own time, and it does not really teach any information.

      Having taught in a "school within a school", I can tell you that what seems to work for your mental frame does not translate. That is *not* to say that the students are dumb... in fact, some of the single mothers and drug addicts (yes, Florida throws them in together; genius) are well read and/or were good students before they entered the alternative systems. Also, they get all the nice new computer systems.

      There is hope for these kids, but even more than "mainstream" students, you have to focus on their individual issues. And (and I hate this as much as you do), you have to pick which ones to give up on to focus on the ones you *can* help.

      Bah - there's a reason I *used* to teach. Maybe I will again... but not until I feel I can do it without becoming irrevocably cynical.


  • by kaisyain ( 15013 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:10AM (#2273048)
    I guess you forget the part where they all explode. If that counts as "no-violence" you should have very little problem finding games.

    Or you could try any of the many puzzle games out there: Tetris, Bust-A-Move, etc. There are plenty of adventure games that don't feature violence, as well.
  • Some Examples (Score:3, Informative)

    by MarcoAtWork ( 28889 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:10AM (#2273049)
    Sim City 3000 (or 2000 if your hardware is not powerful enough)

    Rollercoaster Tycoon (my wife's favorite)

    Railroad Tycoon II

    • Re:Some Examples (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MarcoAtWork ( 28889 )

      any of the games could be used to simulate violence (even the ones you suggested)

      in TIM you can do nasty things to cats, mice and fishes
      in lemmings you can nuke them all
      in SimCity you can build a city and destroy it
      in RCT you can build rollercoasters that crash
      I assume that in RRT you can get trains to crash as well

      Please take this into consideration when picking your title. Note, I am NOT saying that people would use the games to do these things, but the possibility is there, and if it happens you (or whomever approved the games) might have some explaining to do, so I suggest that in your proposal you explain that creative games could *theoretically* be used to simulate violence, even if that's obviously not the aim of the game itself.
  • by Bad_CRC ( 137146 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:10AM (#2273055)
    Worked great for us oldtimers. :D
    • Re:Oregon trail. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NetJunkie ( 56134 )
      Someone should do a survey to see what percentage of current IT (in the right age range) staff played Oregon Trail in school as a kid. I bet it's at least 90%.

      I know I did...and almost bought the newer release a while back just for fun.
    • by GoofyBoy ( 44399 )

      with pretty pictures and music is Railroad Tycoon II.

      They are coming out with a rerelease Sept 20th.

      Excellent non-violence, competitive game.
  • Old board games: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pallex ( 126468 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:10AM (#2273056)
    Chess, backgammon, go.
    Scrabble, trivial pursuit.
    Kensington (if thats available in computer form)
    • A study done a few years ago showed that High School kids (It may have been Jr High) that were on a Chess team "The Raging Rooks" Did better on tests and got better grades than average. Chess is a good thing to teach kids. And lets face it in 50 or 60 years will anyone still know what SimCity is? People will still be playing chess which in one form or another has been around for 1000+ years.
      • I agree that chess is a fine educational game but remember that their literacy rates are probably low and learning time would be long and frustrating at times.

        I know when my father taught me to play at the age of 6 or 7 that I would become quite frustrated at the fact that I could not remember all the moves of all the pieces (I was not playing constantly).

        Quick learning of PC games is far easier and less frustrating than learning chess.

        Knocking over the board might become a common problem.
      • Tsk, tsk! Repeat to yourself ten times:

        Correlation does not indicate causality!

        High School kids (It may have been Jr High) that were on a Chess team "The Raging Rooks" Did better on tests and got better grades than average

        Could it just be that smart kids like chess more than average kids?

        All the same I think that board games would be great to include in the list. If chess fits the bill, then be sure to look at Go []. I personally like games like Risk and Axis&Allies.

      • That's ridiculously skewed.
        Of course they generally did better.

        A better money-wasting "study" would've been "students who do better on tests and get better grades are more likely to be on the chess team."

        *eyebrow furrow*
        "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics."
        -Benjamin Disraeli

        (yeah, sorry.. offtopic. I'm not putting down chess. It definitely teaches problem solving skills.. I have a pet peeve with skewed stats.. /me clicks "No Score +1 Bonus")
        • It seems farily obvious that the study established a correlation between the two things, chess playing, and test scores, however, that does not establish a causal relationship. Playing chess, under that statement, does not provedly improve one's capacity to take tests. Rather it's likely that high test scores, and an affinity toward chess are derived from the same root cause... higher intelligence. Those who really enjoy chess do so because they love wrapping their mind around looking several moves into the future, and manipulating their opponent into things while avoiding being manipulated themselves. Individuals with IQ's of 8 can't do this, so chess is simply frustrating.
  • carmen sandiego (Score:5, Informative)

    by bigpat ( 158134 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:11AM (#2273062)
    I liked Where in the world is carmen sandiego... put them on the other side of the law. ID =244
  • Retro games (Score:4, Informative)

    by MSBob ( 307239 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:11AM (#2273065)
    Retro games should fit the criteria you specify. I don't know about their educational value but most will certainly meet the "non-violence" criteria. The ones that come to my mind include: Tetris, Manic Miner, Pirates, Boulder Dash etc. Often times they are more exciting that todays offerings and are pretty cost effective to purchase.

    For a modern collection of PG rated titles try most things published by Nintendo. Actually Mario 64 was an excellent game in itself and a pretty challenging one too.

    Hope this helps.

  • The Sims (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tester13 ( 186772 )

    I think the Sims would be a great game for the kids you are working with. It teaches time management, the value of relationships, and is very addictive.

    It could possibly be a loose model on successful living

    • It teaches time management, the value of relationships, and is very addictive.

      Is "very addictive" a positive or a negative? And how does that tie into the time management?

  • Give them games from the Sim series (SimCity, Theme Park, etc) and games such as Railroad Tycoon 2. They are highly absorbing, require competitive and creative thought, but feature no guns or violence.

    How about giving them some RPGs? Not sure if you can sneak them past the violence censors, but games that encourage teamwork should be considered a good thing.

    Of course, adventure games will probably be fine too. But I hate them so I can't make any recommendations.

  • Don't they have bombs and other ways of dieing? Does that count as nonviolent? (I know I think of it as a not so violent game, but if you are in a zero tolerance world....)

    There use to be a amusement park simulator, I don't recall any violence in that. There are other sim games, but many have traces of violence (like that nasty hand in SimAnt...or riots in a poorly managed city...).

    Of corse sim games may be a bit hard for people with low literacy, but that may be an advantage since their game play will improve as they manage to read more :-)

    • Mmmm... not sure you'd want Lemmings if you're detaining possible suicide bombers.

      5...4...3...2...1 OH NO! Kaboom.
  • Myst, Riven, etc. (Score:3, Redundant)

    by Alpha_Geek ( 154209 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:13AM (#2273078) Homepage
    The Myst [] family of games is completely non-violent and requires problem solving skills. I think they could be along the lines of what your looking for.
    • Normally I would agree since I love the Myst series. While it does require significant problem solving skills, it also requires a long attention span, and there are lots of people who don't find it engaging enough to be enjoyable.

      I wouldn't recommend getting too many copies, but one or two for the few people who might enjoy those types of games would be good.
    • I'll second this -- another advantage to Myst is its age -- you can run it on old computers just fine, like a 1993 Mac Quadra series, which could be had for $100 or less from ebay.

      The gameplay won't appeal to everybody -- it's a bit too slowpaced for our ADHD society -- but for those who really get into it, they can turn around and reproduce their own Myst-alike using HyperCard [], the best introduction to programming I can think of. Hypercard is one of those Apple technologies that has been inexcusably ignored...

    • Grim Fandango [] is also an excellent problem-solving game. And it has an amusing and engrossing story line.
  • Games (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:13AM (#2273079)
    Some good ones:

    Roller coaster tycoon
    Flight Sim 2000
    Pipe dream (an old water puzzle game where you built plumbing to see how many pieces you could use.)

    Have you looked at any of the old text adventures: Activision has a CD with a number of old Infocom games such as Zork, which while they do have fighting (Sometimes), it's all text and not very graphic. Great puzzle solving games. Frotz, a free interpreter for text adventure games, has a pretty good following, with a number of games available.

    Finally, have you considered plain old Legos?
  • Err chess? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MrP3ach ( 517077 )
    Or perhaps even civilisation or some historical wargame/strtegy game i.e Steel Panthers. You could use Typing of the Dead to teach keyboard skills or do these count as violent and could be disturbing to their fragile little minds. Though quite how it will help is beyond me. What do you want to teach these people? How to use a computer or how to play games?
  • Roller Coaster Tycoon and expansions. Only violence bits are those that would vandalize the park, which is given negative implications since it lowers the park rating and you can hire security guards to help protect it.

    Caesar III, Pharaoh/Cleopatra and Zeus. All are simcity-like, but with historical bents. There are some elements to building an army as necessary to defend your city at times, but you simply tell people to defend or attack, and do little else in terms of battle. Zeus and C III have a bit more of this than Pharaoh.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:14AM (#2273084)
    and tweak the settings so economic cooperation is rewarded more than conquest. Could also have additional materials so that when they discover some new technology, you can go into it in more depth than the program does.

  • Text adventures (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cosmicbandito ( 160658 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:14AM (#2273085)
    Why not help them increase their literacy level while they have fun? There are plenty of text adventures that are non-violent and engaging. Any of the infocom titles would be an excellent choice, with the exception of HHGTG. That one might be a bit frustrating. As an added bonus, these games will run on the simplest of hardware and don't require frequent fixing. Also, it might foster a sense of community among your juveniles, forcing them to share solutions to puzzles.
  • Droidworks (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chelloveck ( 14643 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:14AM (#2273087) Homepage

    Lemmings qualifies as non-violent? The game where those cute little guys can fall off cliffs, be fried by flamethrowers, blown up, drowned, decapitated, and squished? That Lemmings? :-)

    Anyway, I recommend Droidworks []. You build droids to solve various puzzles, then pilot them in an over-the-shoulder view. My kids love it.

    • The game where those cute little guys can fall off cliffs, be fried by flamethrowers, blown up, drowned, decapitated, and squished?

      Don't forget the button that, when clicked, caused all remaining lemmings to stop, hold their hands up to their terrorized shaking heads, and shout "Armageddon!" before exploding.

  • Sokoban (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Wolfgar ( 410330 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:14AM (#2273090)
    This is a great little addictive game where the object is to push boxes through a maze to designated destinations without getting any of them stuck (e.g. pushing one into the can't push it out of there)
  • The two most addictive games I have ever found are Qix (late 70s, I think) and Tetris. No violence, and in fact no people at all. Just moving shapes.
  • mudding (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cederic ( 9623 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:18AM (#2273118) Journal

    Get them into mudding. Find a mud that focusses on exploration and quest solving, rather than fighting. Then it meets the non-violence criteria.

    Several advantages to muds (MUD, MUSH, etc:
    - boosts literacy (text only feedback means you HAVE to read)
    - teaches you to type fast
    - social interaction
    - intelligent inquisitive types will want to learn how to extend the mud == learning to code == gaining rather useful skills
    - people will try to figure out how to cheat. This is healthy - it means they are applying creative thought.
    - making the kids admin the mud puts them in a position of responsibility

    • NO! (Score:5, Funny)

      by alta ( 1263 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @11:48AM (#2273693) Homepage Journal
      great, just we need a bunch of kids stuck in fantasy land when they get out of the joint. I can see it now, they get released, what do they do?

      Go north
      go north
      go east
      pick up stick
      beat old man
      You've gained experience!
      You've looted 3 silver pieces!
      Go east
      go east...
    • I'm not an unbiased reader: I am a wizard of Furrymuck []. Despite its reputation, it is a social place, but large areas are adult-only.

      I strongly recommend that you check out any MU* before you move students on. Ask the wizards the following questions:

      • What's the general theme of your MU*?
      • How many people are usually online at any time?
      • When people are on your MU*, what are they usually doing?
      • How would your population react to having X students from a Juvenile Detention Center join?
      • Are there adult-only areas? What protections do you have against children wandering into those areas?
      • Do you have puzzles on your system? What style of puzzles are they: group or individual puzzles? How difficult are they?

      If you're looking for a list of MUDs, Yahoo [] has a good, unpolitical selection. Good luck!

    • Nothing will stop people who wish to be cruel to one another from doing so.

      Your goal is to motivate them to acquire skills and to learn that their abilities can extend far beyond that which they currently perceive them to.

      I recommend that you avoid any games that involve the direct manipulation of human avatars in any form. Concentrate on activities that require logical decision making.

      To be honest, I'm not sure at all if games are a solution here. I postulate that all games cater to a certain extent to our desire to escape our surroundings (much like movie watching does) and that therefore its quite possible that you are not solving the problem but creating a new one.

      Still... its not a bad idea... just make sure that gaming is only part of what you do.
  • What about sierra? (Score:3, Informative)

    by MusicGeek ( 452558 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:19AM (#2273121)
    How about the King's Quest games. If I remember correctly at least the first four were non-violent, although the owl in KQ IV sometimes made me want to kill somebody.
  • Adventure games! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ZaMoose ( 24734 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:20AM (#2273130)
    Almost any King's Quest ('cept the last 3d one... that sucked), any Monkey Island game, Grim Fandango, Sam & Max (well, I guess any LucasArts adv. game except for Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine. Not so good). All teach puzzle-solving logic with a good sense of humo(u)r.

    I second the Carmen Sandiego series as well as the 0ld Sk00l Oregon Trail. Mmmm, buffalo...

    I recall a Sim-like game involving running a beer distributorship. Could prove interesting (except for the polka-influenced soundtrack. *shudder*)

    Also, does X Pilot count as violent? You could bill it as A "gravitational physics/particle interaction simulator".

    Then there's always SameGnome... *grin*
  • Does the no violence policy include abstracted violence? The Civilization series of games is great if the abstracted violence is okay. For pure non-violence, Railroad Tycoon II [] is great. I've played it quite a bit - the main downside is that it takes quite a while to get up to speed and it also takes quite a while to play a single game. Its main benefits for an educational setting include: history, geography, macro economics, and finance. It can also be multi-player over a network.
  • "The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis" is a great game! Several years old, from Broderbund I believe.
  • Any adventure game (Score:5, Informative)

    by dagashi ( 60865 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:23AM (#2273155)
    Monkey Island 2, 3 and 4 are all great games where you have to think quite a bit... and best of all, you get to laugh too.
    Don't miss out on Grim Fandango either.
    All above from LucasArts.

    I also enjoyed playing the Qing's/Space/Heroe's Quest games (Sierra) alot.
    The Dig(LucasArts) is also a great adventure game not to be forgotten!

    They're all non-violence.
  • In general, most arcade games aren't any more violent than Lemmings.

    In particular, I mention Crazy Taxi [], because its non-violence is almost amusing. There are times when you accidentally drive the car off the road and you drop into oblivion, and your passenger's only comment is "turn right!", minus the expected screaming or flailing of hands.

  • They prob wont let you get away with Leisure Suit Larry but my other Fav's like the Space Quest series, the Kings Quest series, the Quest for Glory series and dont forget the Monkey Islands (LucasArts). They all are non-violent, all involve a lot of concentration and problem solving and can be really really funny at times.

    But if litteracy is going to be a hurdle that you'll need to overcome you might want to take a walk through a public schools software library. I once saved $1000 in consultants fees doing that! :)
  • Ambrosia SW (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:30AM (#2273189)
    For those Mac-heads out there, Ambrosia Software has a wealth of great quality games that have minimum system requirements and contain little or no violence.
  • There are Several (Score:3, Informative)

    by cnladd ( 97597 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:31AM (#2273201) Homepage
    The "Where in the * is Carmen San Diego" series is one of the best. Another common one that I've seen used in several schools was "Oregon Trail". If literacy levels are a concern, you may want to try some of the several text adventures out there. There are several good ones that are made for younger people - and having to read and type may be a great help to boost those literacy levels.

    The various "Sim" games are, of course, excellent. I'd recommend Sim Earth, as it was intended to be purely educational. Sim City is, of course, a good one. Finally, though it can be considered slightly violent, depending on how you look at it, Civilization II would be an excellent choice for a strategy game.
    • thumbs up on the civiliation mention.

      civilization: call to power wuld be excellent. it is violent in the abstract- sending nukes over peaceful cities as represented by chessboard-like moves, for example, but nowhere near the heartpounding visceral violence of quake or unreal. maybe some will try the diplomatic path towards a peaceful victory instead that is allowed in the game, especially as a purely militaristic approach impoverishes their populace and leads towards a losing game. it is that kind of exploring your selfish options and learning that cooperative options are superior that is real learning for youth- troubled or otherwise.

      these kids will learn some history, critical thinking skills, and develop the kind of silent frontal-lobe concentration for hours that is not usually expected from troubled juvies.
  • Videogame-inspired off-line violence is not limited to titles like Quake and CounterStrike. Even Oregon Trail has inspired some kids to start busting musket shot caps int one another's arses.

    It isn't pretty.

    Check out this guy's tattoo [] if you don't believe me.

    The SomethingAwful forums had an absolutely hilarious thread along this line a few months back. I'd post a link to it, but I think their archives are currently busticated.

  • Educational?... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Games that are fun, nonviolent, and educational... well, I would personally reccomend a lego mindstorms set, though those can get pricey. Along the eyecandy line I can reccomend the Myst series, though if you want something a little less difficult (as far as the puzzles are concerned, Myst: Exile nonwithstanding), take a look at Presto Studio's Journeyman Project line... Not only eyecandy, but it includes quite a few historical/mythological locations (the game is based on time travel) and #2 and later include a handy AI who tends to comment on items of historical significance.

    I'm actually reminded of an old game from about '94 that was called 'Heaven and Earth', which was essentially a collection of Puzzles and skill tests, ranging from the simle and fun to the mindbreakingly complex.

    Of course... well, Civilization is a good one, a bit dated, though CivII is similarly addictive, and Civilization: Call To Power isn't bad either, and allows LAN games. Call To Power II I have personal issues with, because the interface is kinda tedious, and this series may not get past the non-violent part.

    However, don't restrict yourself to computer games. If you feel like expanding into the realms of Card games and so on, I can reccomend a whole series of games. Chrononauts [] is a very funny and educational game, though it 'follows' a very tounge-in-cheek version of history. Similarly, many things by Cheapass Games [] can be fun... though you'll have to dig a bit to find something educational. :)

    I hope this was helpfull ;)
  • Lego Alpha Team (Score:5, Informative)

    by trichard ( 28185 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:34AM (#2273213)
    Lego Alpha Team is a game that makes the player solve spatial puzzles to continue to the next level. The puzzles require the player to place special blocks that change the direction of movement of the on-screen characters.

    In effect, you "program" the movement to accomplish a specific goal. In fact, the playing process reminds me a great deal of programming. Kind of an edit-run-debug sort of process. You have unlimited time and lives to complete the puzzles (unlike actual programming, I guess).

    All of this is wrapped up in a action/adventure story-line which keep it engaging. My eight-year-old son loves this game and I enjoy playing it too.

    Check out the game's home page [] and a review at Kid's Domain [].

  • Hoyle's (Score:3, Informative)

    by remande ( 31154 ) <> on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:35AM (#2273218) Homepage
    There is an entire Hoyle's series of computer games, based on non-tech standards. Hoyle's Word Games is a good vocabulary builder. Hoyle's Board Games and Hoyle's Card Games build math and general strategic skills.
  • by Quila ( 201335 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:36AM (#2273223)
    There was a game called "hackers" or something like that for the Atari ST where you go rummaging through computers of big bad corporation to figure out and stop their world domination plot. It took a good amount of problem solving, and it was fun.

    Plus you get to indoctrinate the juvies on corporate evil.
  • by ObligatoryUserName ( 126027 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:40AM (#2273251) Journal
    I've recently been consumed by the non-violent fun found in Bridge Builder [] (fulfill all your secret engineering fantasies), as well as the cartoon physics motorcycle puzzle game []. Bridge Builder is Free (as in Beer), and the motorcycle game has an 18 level shareware version.
  • Man - no kid should grow up without playing Rocky's Boots []. I wish this would be updated, as the graphics are a bit ancient.

    What's cooler than a raccoon running about teaching you how to build circuits? Admittedly it's meant for 8-year olds, but all EE courses should be this amusing...

  • The lemmings can be made to explode after a 5-10 second countdown. Also, they get killed by falling into flames, hot acid, on hard/sharp surfaces, etc.
  • Cute problem solver (although it's a "play it once and then not again"). If you get stuck you wander round and round for ever, but you can't (almost!) kill the character off. One of the designer's aims was to make a fun non-violent game, and they succeeded pretty well.

    Very nice visuals too. No rendering - they just made it all of plasticine and filmed it.

    • However, note that The Neverhood [Chronicles] is a hard-to-find game that regularly changes hands for no less than $40 on eBay []. Whereas, say, Klik & Play [] is $9 (and free for schools).
  • by room101 ( 236520 ) on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:49AM (#2273316) Homepage
    Here are some good ones, the educational value is subjective, and of course, ymmv.

    as mentioned before, sim* (city, etc.) Teaches management/juggleing; also, life isn't always "fair", you just take life as it comes.

    also mentioned: mindrover (maybe too advanced--don't know what age group target--but a great game. Teaches engineering/scientific thinking, and trial and error. Great one for "learning by doing".

    rollercoaster tycoon, et al. (all "tycoon" games are pretty good, you have to run your own [fill in the blank], very mind engaging) They would probably like the rollercoaster tycoon the best, but they are all good and teach organization and management. Fun to watch your theme park flurish.

    train simulator (new, never played it, got good reviews)

    homeworld/homeworld cataclysm (maybe these have "violence", but no blood and guts, so depending on your defininition... the ships just blow up, Star Wars style, so G-rated violence.) teaches organization and resourse allocation.

    Hope these help.

  • by Dark Paladin ( 116525 ) <[ten.lemmuhnhoj] [ta] [lemmuhj]> on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:56AM (#2273373) Homepage
    I'm trying to define "no violence" as anything that might insite the kids to riot. So here's my short list:

    1. Myst/Riven/Myst III [www.cyan.comtargetblank] (well, if you get around Myst III's copy protection). Games with lot's o' puzzles, interesting plots, and should keep them engrossed for awhile and make them think.

    2. The Longest Journey [www.funcom...argetblank] - another adventure game, but really, really good. Yes, the main character does have an underwear scene, but it's tame.

    3. Gadget Tycoon [] - teach folks how to run a business. A little on the hard side, but interesting.

    4. Tritrys [] - I've known many a person to be addicted to this one.

    5. Lode Runner. 'Nuff said.

    That should get you started. Most of your "non-violent" games are going to be of the adventure/puzzle variety. I'd also see what the limits of "non-violent" are - would 4X games (like Starships Unlimited []) count? Racing games (Mario Kart - sounds stupid, but loads of fun) might also be up the alley.
  • Sokoban (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tet ( 2721 ) <slashdot@a s t r a> on Monday September 10, 2001 @10:56AM (#2273376) Homepage Journal
    The title says it all. Sokoban is great for encouraging people to think about the consequences of actions, and to plan ahead.
  • THe best educational games I played while I was a kid were on the C64. I'm sure they are ported in various ways to other systems, but my favourites were:

    Lemonade (Capitalist fun)
    Oregon Trail (pioneering, resource management)
  • I agree that for those with the attention span, Myst or the Sim-series games are excellent choices. For those who might want something a bit faster paced, I might suggest any of the sports titles with a career or franchise option. The actual arcade game is pretty much a time-waster, but making people interact in a simulated "league" with other competing team owners and attempt to develop a franchise over the long term might be an interesting exercise.


  • This game has the highest replay value of any that I've ever played, and is non-violent (unless you count the blood that sprays from your face if you land a trick wrong ;)

    They've even released a Mac version, although I think the Dreamcast version is tops.
  • Journeyman Project (Score:2, Informative)

    by esper_child ( 515754 )
    What about The Journeyman Project series. Much more entertaining than the myst series, and there is deffinately more thinking involved (or atleast their was for me). Plus, time travel just plain kicks ass.
  • If you're using macs, check out Tranquility at The name explains it all -- it's the most relaxing, engrossing computer program I've ever encountered.
  • The best way "to engage students' creativity and problem solving skills" is computer programming. Several people have suggested some very good special purpose programming languages:

    Incredible Machine, Mind Rover, Lemmings (a slight stretch), LEGO Mindstorms, Rocky's Boots (and Robot Odyssey should be included here)

    Someone's suggestion to try Java was called "cruel and unusual punishment" and that is probably accurate but some general purpose programming languages are appropriate:

    Logo is being used in a few Juvenile Detention Centers. Seymour Papert is involved in such a project [].

    Stagecast Creator [] is pretty simple and sort of general.

    ToonTalk [] (my baby) is a general purpose programming language that looks and feels like a computer game.
  • We have the following non-violent games at Tux Games []
    Erics Ultimate Solitaire []
    Krilo []
    Mindrover []
    Railroad Tycoon II []
    Reel Deal Slots [] (tho this is gambling so maybe not)
    Wurstelstand []

    Mindrover and Krilo especially are good for problem solving.
  • Really. Violence in the turn-based strategy is very abstract and, most important, you never have adrenaline rush due to it (that's what should be avoided, as far as I understand).
    All kinds of Civilazation, Master of Orion, Master of Magic, xyz General and so on.

    Learning curve may be a bit too steep, though.
  • by orange_6 ( 320700 )
    Thinking of the institution you are involved with, many of them probably grew up playing/watching completely violent games being played. How many of them are actually going to want to play puzzle games, text based games or anything without a fancy little GUI to go along with it? Probably not too many, IMO.

    Why not try to get them involved in actual games like chess or Risk, Axis and Allies, etc...all of these made it to PC/PS/Nintendo in one form or another, if you must stick to that route.

    The question is, do you really want them to be involved with a medium that they are already familiar with or do you want them to concentrate on deeper thinking and problem solving, or possibly gaining an increased interest in a tech related field via the games?
  • Classics such as:

    • Zork
    • Monkey Island series
    • Grim Fandago
    • 7th Guest
    • Myst

    were all mentally stimulating and challenging, along with being fun.
  • The trouble with what you are asking for is that for a game to be interesting there must be an objective. For the objective to be meaningful there must be problems to overcome.

    Violence is a part of life, defining it is tough, artificially removing it is just dumb. You need clarification from the people in power. Do you want games with NO violence, or games which encourage problem solving without violence?

    As one person pointed out, you can smash cities in Sim City. Big deal. We've all done it. We're not all axe-murderers. The problem you're going to come up against, in my opinion, is not the person playing the games, nor the social workers laying down the law as to what is 'constructive' or 'violent', but the people with the I.T. budget who think they know anything about what the correctional institution is doing.

    Get the O.K. from your Boss to call in the people making the decisions. Otherwise you'll take the fall for some guy committing suicide because his city crumbled. Get each and every game 'rubberstamped' and be sure to point out to them how the game can be abused.

    If you want to make a difference in what kind of software these people are exposed to, you won't be able to do it from the tech department... at least not without some help.

  • by Brighten ( 93641 )
    It's not a computer game, but the card game Set [] would be great. It's completely visual, so literacy is not a problem; it's easy to learn; it's fast-paced and exciting; and there are a lot of interesting math problems and puzzles associated with it.
  • There's a []
    review here of the "Logical Journey of the Zoombinis", which is supposed to be one of the better puzzle games out there. Of course, it's created for 8-12 year olds, but depending on the developmental level of your charges, it might still be appropriate.

  • Of course, there are also sports games, which at least aren't about killing people. Not much educational value, but they do keep a lot of people interested.

  • Seriously. Starcraft really does make you think. You have to plan your attacks and defenses according to your opponent. Can I send 6 tanks in against 24 marines with stimpaks? It also is a little violent. Not in the sense that most people think of when they picture a violent game, but in the sense that you do kill beings. My $.02.
  • Railroad Tycoon II, and any of the similar genre of make-money-on-trade-routes games might be good. About the only 'violent' stuff in that game is that sometimes trains crash, and that's not directly under player control anyway. (You can't click a "make the train crash now" button, while in Sim City, there's the "make disaster happen now" menu.)

    One good thing about RRT2 is that it has a scenario editor, so if you need to make an easier game for younger kids, or promote a specific style of play, you can set up scenarios for that, and edit the map as you see fit.

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