As I design each of my games, I need to consider the weight of both the education portion and the game portion. I want kids to want to play the games, but I want the teachers and parents to want to let them play the games. Too much fun, very little education and review seems to happen. But, too much education, and the kids do not want to play the game.
So, where is the magical line. Recently I have been trying a new method with some of my math games. When they are working on the math, that is all they do. There are some fun graphics, but not a ton of interaction and movement. However, once they finish a certain number of math problems correctly, they get the reward of playing a game. I have found that some sort of time limit is required on those sections or the kids will never get back to the math.
So far my most popular games of this style are my platform games. Super Stars and Beach Rush both use the reward of climbing through a platform game, similar to Mario Bros style, as their motivation to do their math problems. Before the student finishes their game levels, or their lives, they will have finished at least 30 math problems. At this point, these have been quite popular.
I am looking forward to trying different methods to combine the fun and education. I will keep you posted as to what I come up with for my experiments.