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Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing

Mavis Beacon may look like she has a friendly smile, but don’t get too attached. She’s actually just a marketing ploy. Mavis isn’t real; she’s what advertising folks call a logotype. Still, that doesn’t mean we don’t have our fair share of fond memories of her. After all, she introduced us to the fast-paced world of speed-typing, which was all the rage during the late eighties.

With our fingers poised above the home keys, we were ready to pounce on any key that needed a pounding, sending steady stream of correctly spelled copy to our computer monitors – and it was all thanks to Mavis. With Mavis leading the way, typing didn’t seem like a chore. Instead, it felt like preparation for a future where everyone’s true worth would be measured – not by their deeds – but by how many words per minute they could type with their left hand. We’re still waiting for that to happen – and when it does, we’ll be ready.


The Typing of the Dead

To be fair this came out on Dreamcast in 2000, but even though you don’t have any classroom memories of The Typing of the Dead, the game brought the typing genre to its apex. You see, the one thing all previous typing games were missing up until this point was more zombies. In fact, the key ingredient missing from most things in life today seems to be more zombies.

The game was a spin-off of 1999’s House of the Dead 2, a first-person rail-shooter published by Sega that consisted of gunning down the undead with a light gun. But Typing of the Dead threw out the gun in exchange for a keyboard, resulting in a typing tutor with both single and multiplayer modes that had players transcribing some of the best sentences known to gaming. Forget about repeatedly typing “Dog,” this game had randomly generated gems like “Grandad vacation” and “Which hole?” Yeah, typing is brilliant.


Above: A picture of the arcade version that released in 1999, one year before it made its way to the Dreamcast 


Above: See The Typing of the Dead in action


Odell Lake

No game has ever managed to properly portray the plight of a fish like Odell Lake. Through a combination of otters, fish, and RPG-styled random battles, Odell Lake reveals how much of a bastard nature can be. It’s not even a fish-eat-fish world. It’s more like a fish-eat-fish-then-die-slowly-of-poison-because-that-blueback-salmon-was-exposed-to-lab-radiation-at-some-point world.

Released in 1986 by the same organization that funded Oregon Trail, Odell Lake placed you in the role of a fish faced with the task of swimming through an Oregon lake, just trying to score a bite of plankton without succumbing to the crushing forces of the world working against it. It was meant to help you learn about various types of wildlife animals by tapping into your familiarity with turn-based combat. And guess what? It worked.

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31 comments

  • HardNoks - June 22, 2014 10:47 a.m.

    What? No Math Blasters?
  • jsty3105 - December 28, 2013 5:13 a.m.

    Adventures in Math on the PC helped me get great results in my maths exams as a wee 'un
  • g1rldraco7 - December 26, 2013 10:54 p.m.

    Odell Lake and Number Crunchers were the first computer games I ever played. Those were very fun for simple games.
  • Oujisama - December 26, 2013 8:10 p.m.

    Oregon Trails all the god damn way. As a child I didn't even realize I was "learning". It was just a fun freaking game.
  • shawksta - December 25, 2013 3:16 p.m.

    Mario is Missing was one hell of a drug
  • FamousMortimer - May 17, 2010 7:13 a.m.

    Buzz Aldrin's Race Into Space was great. Great graphics (for 1994), and taught quite a bit about both the US and Soviet Space programs. Can even be had on some abandonware sites, if anybody is curious.
  • barrage7667 - May 17, 2010 2:37 a.m.

    OMG YES WHERE IN THE WORLD WAS CARMEN SANDIEGO WAS MY GAME!!! i played tht non stop when i was a kid. by the time i had stopped the game i had solved like, 100 crimes
  • lymanzaar - May 16, 2010 11:49 p.m.

    OH MY GOD! When I was in Second grade, my class was the only room with old apple computers. When ever we had indoor recess during rain, we all played Number Munchers. I could never remember the name of the game though.
  • lovinmyps3 - May 16, 2010 6:09 p.m.

    The only game I got back then was a Mario typing game, where hitting the right keys made him jump.
  • slimjim441 - May 15, 2010 6:25 a.m.

    Holy hell! I thought I was the last person on the planet who knew the game Number Muncher! That's awesome, oh the memories... P.S. Half-Life and Portal are educational. They teach physics and critical thinking.
  • jmcgrotty - May 15, 2010 5:40 a.m.

    The best way to ever learn to type, and still is, are through MUD's. I know it doesn't really fit in with the topic, but it's still too true a fact to not be mentioned.
  • Metroidhunter32 - May 15, 2010 1:37 a.m.

    I actually like the Where in the world games, but I agree, math blaster should be on here.
  • drunkenfish - May 14, 2010 9:04 p.m.

    math blaster, zoombinies, the one where you play as the guy with the ice picks...and for some reason we played a lot of bugdom in school. I remember getting a mac when i was 9 and my friend and i literally had 10 other kids over and threw a party when we beat the game. Killed the giant red ant. 10 levels of good.
  • JoeMasturbaby - May 14, 2010 7:14 p.m.

    i played Math Blaster so much in 3-4th grade at school. my middle school had a weird puzzle game where you make Rube Goldberg-type things to get certain objectives.
  • OnyxOblivion - May 14, 2010 7:08 p.m.

    Putt Putt? Spy Fox? Pajama Sam? Freddy Fish? Any of those ring a bell, people?
  • foxbowser42 - May 14, 2010 6:38 p.m.

    I definitely think Mario Teaches Typing should be on here. My favorite old school educational game was Putt Putt and Fatty Bear.
  • TanookiMan - May 14, 2010 6:01 p.m.

    Yeah, mrio mad me nto the typr I m today :)
  • Spacegrass - May 14, 2010 3:38 p.m.

    Odell Lake also had a sequel, Odell Down Under. It was set in the Great Barrier Reef. Its campaign mode let you start as a lame little fish and work your way up to playing as a great white shark. It was awesome. Also, Mario Teaches Typing definitely deserves a place on this list. Also also, I'm still waiting for Uwe Boll to make an Oregon Trail movie, featuring Meat Loaf as a buffalo and Udo Kier as the villain, Dysentery.
  • GenerationKill - May 14, 2010 1:56 p.m.

    I miss number munchers.
  • philipshaw - May 14, 2010 10:26 a.m.

    “That game with the turtle robot that drew patterns on paper” was designed by Ryan Clements dad. Ryan Clements for those who don't know is one of the best editors at IGN

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