Elementary Gaming: The Top 10 Video Games from Grade School

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November 19, 2012 by khrisgolder

None of the youngsters today knew what it was like to have to wait six hours of class time and two bus rides to get their gaming on. Fifteen to twenty years ago, there weren’t smart phones that would let you play every console/PC game in existence. While you are messing around on your IPhones, we had to settle for iMacs. In fact, the best case scenario we had was a Game Gear or Game Boy Color. Gamers from our generation had to cope by playing whatever games were deemed ‘educational’ and fit for classroom computers (unless you had a high-grade scientific calculator with preprogrammed games to sneak into class). This list is a throwback to the greatest games you could play on your school library computer.

Oregon Trail

A classic to this day, discussing this first is almost unfair to every other game on the list. There were so many great moments: the hunting, the traveling, the hunting, the fear of the unknown wilderness, and the hunting. Looking back, if the game didn’t have hunting, we probably would have skipped out on it. Regardless, Oregon Trail rocked oxen’s socks off. If it taught us nothing else, it was the existence of the word dysentery.

Oregon Trail II

Oregon Trail II had so many additions and upgrades: it was truly a unique experience from the first. The live-action character models made it feel like encountering people in a real cross-country expedition. The audio tracks were a giant step up, ranging from running creeks to cracking axles, rattling snakes to rustling wheatgrass. How about hustling the townsfolk out of their money by infinitely bartering in a triangle of shops? Get bullets, hunt bear, sell pelts for bullets and cash: leaving the first town without a bazillion dollars was a tragedy in itself. Not to mention the immanent death that would follow without a wagon full of costly supplies. Banker, carpenter, or gunsmith: any other class was pointless. The game was so awesome, and genuinely educational, there’s no question why it wound up in so many school grade Macs. However, the main reason it was included in every school in North America: out of all classes, teachers were given the highest score multiplier upon completion of the game. Regardless of the subliminal messages, Oregon Trail II was king.

Feeding Frenzy

Finding the balance in Feeding Frenzy was what made this game the best and worst on this list. Be a tiny sea creature that never requires food, but constantly runs from everything else in sight. Be the unstoppable Great White, but be forced to eat faster than a COD gamer at the Lobby menu screen. The variety of playable aquatic life meant a unique experience each time you sat down on your lunch hour.

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

Finding Carmen Sandiego was harder than finding your class on the first day of school. There’s no way that game was designed for Ages 7+! We still tried, learning that the process of elimination is sometimes the best way to find your answer. At least, it was the best way to determine the whereabouts of an international criminal cloaked in suspicious red garb. Come to think of it, in that getup, why the hell couldn’t anyone find Carmen Sandiego?


I was originally under the impression this game was accidentally downloaded on my school’s computer, but I spoke with a lot of other gamers from different districts over the years. Was Turok on your school computers, too? Seems a bit out of place…

Mario Teaches Typing

If you were lucky enough to have this typing program, you bragged every time you beat a ‘level.’ In fact, if it wasn’t for that little mustachioed fool, I wouldn’t be half the typist I am today.

Number Munchers

Number Munchers is one of the only reasons why some of the gamers we know can handle basic math. It chewed up Math Blasters and spit it out like Thursday’s meatloaf. If you sat at a computer that didn’t have Number Munchers on it, you were in for a crappy day. It made you feel like a real Reggie.

Sim City 2000 & every other simulation game

For some it was Sim City, Sim Ant, Sim Earth, or Sim City 2000. Or you were one of those dumb kids who though DinoPark Tycoon was the greatest thing since the Velociraptor. Whoever you were, you played one of these fruitless simulation games every chance you had. Why were they so pointless? You spent your whole break (or freetime, respectively) trying to build your world, only to have it erased after all your hard work earned you some worldly acclaim, guest arrivals, or cash. That was if your city didn’t get uprooted by acts of God (stupid limited liability Simsurance policies).

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