I see your Gamification, and I raise you Gameducation. Gamification has become part of the developer lexicon, A recent article posits:
… Caroline Avey, director of innovative learning solutions at ACS Learning Services, a division of Xerox, and an expert in the area of game mechanics. … believes gaming is taking off at this point in time because of a combination of the increased ability to share information and the need to compete for mindshare as a result of all of that information. “The accessibility of information on the Internet and the ability to gather and share information has increased significantly over the past five years,” she said. “Also, you’re competing with other activities that a user might be able to do. How can you make your activity more appealing than other activities?”
However I think gameducation has not really caught on in quite the same way. This may have to do with how the educational system has rose up out of the past. Academia with it’s 10k years of history has much more baggage than software development which has less than 100 years of history. Respectively not only has programming been faster to take up Gamification but also Gameducation. The first thing I remember doing on a computer was playing a game called Oregon Trail. The thing of it is that research has shown that gamifying the work place improves productivity and employee health.
One game which aims to teach how to program is Vim Adventures, if your interested in devising some of this game play for yourself I recommend taking a look at Learnable Programming where you will get exposed to the concepts of contextual vocabulary and learning, explaining game play or game mechanics to the user, reactive design and immersion in general. Alternatively games can be used to sway societal concepts as Jane McGonigal talked about at TED.
Personally I like the approach taken by Pandemic to teach infectious disease & virulence concepts. I also am a big fan of how concepts of society, conflict and history are approached in Sid Meier’s games. Spore is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of how you get someone to appreciate and understand evolution both biological and technological. These games are really good at what they do and have done well by doing it.