Video Games as educational materials are nothing new (anyone remember Oregon Trail?), but most of us still think of gaming as a shoot-em-up time waster. That's changing though, as developers with purpose are crafting programs with rich educational and emotional content.

One team of Brazilian students is well into development for Thralled, an iPad game that follows Isaura, a fictional African slave in 18th century Brazil. She's fleeing into the woods, pursued by a shadowy monster that looks a lot like herself. While most actions in the game are simple—requiring basic puzzle solving—Isaura's escape is complicated by the young child she's carrying. To do most tasks she has to set the baby down, with only brief moments before it's snatched by the monster. The game's lead says that people testing it have had "strong emotional reactions," to the fleeing slave's constant dilemmas, and "a sense of empathy that can only be achieved with ...

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