In my days at Broderbund software and Cendant software, I witnessed first hand the demise of the edutainment software industry due to market pressures and consolidation. What remains is the vestiges of those companies, and the titles they created years ago, while the developers are gone. As someone at Broderbund said to me one day, "the days of interesting educational tiles like 'Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego' are long gone." It simply costs too much to develop educational titles in a world where consumers expect to pay $10 or less.
Ted Henning's latest project is http://www.Brainmeld.org, a site devoted to promoting the use of computer games and simulations in education. I think we can all agree that computer games are a part of life for most kids growing up in the US and Europe, and Ted's Master's thesis and the work of people in the educational research field which inspired him indicates that this isn't the disastrous turn of events many have predicted it to would be. Brainmeld.org supports the premise that some games are actually "educational" in a way both children (and adults for that matter) find entertaining.
Brainmeld.org hopes to broker a connection between the Game Industry and Educators, and has started the process off with a set of Lesson plans culled from Ted's thesis, for games like Zoo Tycoon, Age of Empires and Madden Football 2005. I helped set up a forum for the site, where Ted hopes to gather Game developers and teachers interested in this emerging field.
I have to confess that my daughter enjoys sitting in my lap on occasion when I'm running around inside World of Warcraft, and has learned at the age of two years and six months to point to the top of the in-game map and declare this direction to be "North". Maybe there's something to this premise after all? Now if, someone could just find educational value in blowing off alien's heads off with a big gun, teenage boys the world over would rejoice at the thought of school.