"SimCity, the venerable urban planning simulator, is positioning itself as a Swiss Army knife for teachers," writes Brian Fung. "Not only does it aim to convey basic skills such as arithmetic, but an understanding of complex systems such as the economy, the environment and the relationships that tie them together. It's a new supplement for schools that tries to be more comprehensive in scope and more conscious of the challenges our children will someday face."
Thousands of students across the U.S. are testing SimCityEDU, a specially tailored edition of SimCity that limits the game's functionality to convey specific concepts and deliver data on students' performance.
"On top of the critical thinking and other academic skills we associate with schooling, SimCityEDU may hold unexplored benefits for emotional development," adds Fung.
"Students are just blown away by the engagement," said Jessica Lindl, who oversees a five-member partnership of academic entities and gaming companies. "It's as engaging as stuff they do outside the classroom. They get really emotionally connected to the citizens and their city — they feel like they're being treated like adults because they have this opportunity to manage and save. It's a responsibility they don't traditionally get in the classroom."