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When the Music Stops Uncle Gary
Will Be Here to Speak to you . . .


Mixing play with education has been one of the cherished tenets of teaching since the early sixties when 'revolutionary' concepts upset the more Victorian stick and no carrot traditions that held that children should be seen and not heard and if seen, then only when sitting quietly, neatly and in a well behaved manner.

Freedom of expression has become everything, so now we all know that when five year-old Johnny is caught bashing in the head of four year-old Jimmy, he's not really exhibiting a possible violent streak, but only expressing his sense of angst at the world's oppression of his free spirit.

During the pre-sixties (repressive) era, children had to make do with behaving properly in the prescribed manner and venting their free spirits by watching animated cartoons, which, as we all know, are excessively violent! Well, ZZAP! isn't given to over-moralising, and this isn't the place to examine in detail the value of releasing pent up frustrations vicariously watching simulated violence on screen (or discussing Mary Whitehouse et al's refutation of such theories). No, we accept that kids of all ages can be violent and enjoy cartoon concepts whereby mice flatten cats' heads with smoothing irons -- after all, the cat straightens out in the next frame . . .

In some senses animated cartoons are usually educational even if only to promote some moral. Educational computer programs have lived in a bit of a limbo -- parents approve, children often don't! They want their computer games to be fun. Well, some educational programs have been successful in being both fun and useful, but with the past twelve month's obsession with TV and film tie-ins, it surely comes as no surprise to see the trend spread to the educational field as well. A few programs have appeared recently sporting famous and popular heroes from the big and small screen. In an attempt to get away from the stuffy 'educational' tag, most of them are dressed up promotionally as 'Kids' games'.

As mentioned in issue 3 of ZZAP!, US Gold have acquired the rights to release the Walt Disney/Sierra range of 'educational' games in the UK and are doing so under the label of Kids! I use the term 'educational' very loosely though, as the programs are really games for the younger games-player, with educational overtones. The idea seems to be to subconsciously teach children such rudimentary 'skills' as logical thinking, map making and object matching through a series of simple, but fun to play, games.




Donald Duck's Playground

Winnie the Pooh in the
Hundred-Acre Wood

Orm and Cheep -
Narrow Squeaks

Generally then, the Disney games seem to have the edge over the home-grown product. On the other hand, they are more expensive, especially if you opt for disk versions (essential in the case of Winnie the Pooh), but honestly, I would have to say that you also get rather a bit more for your money.



Htmlized by Dimitris Kiminas (31 Dec 2003)

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