The fascination with computer, and later online, gaming is nothing new, and can be traced back more than 60 years when university professors toyed with the idea of creating computer games on their then primitive machines, such as a versions of Tic-Tac-Toe, created by a Cambridge University professor in 1952. Even after video game meant for computer use were created, Space War was the first in 1962, there was an extremely limited number of users. After all, who had computers in their home? Certainly not the masses.

Contrast that with today. Those early experimentations and unsophisticated games were nothing like the vast array of games available today and the millions of users of all ages playing them on their smart phones and tablets. According to figures released by the NPD Group,video game sales in 2012 totaled $380 million.

Much of that explosive growth can be attributed to the onset of online games that stream directly into your computer gaming system or mobile device. Games can be sheer fun, or, in the case of educators, they can also be effective teaching tools in early childhood development. The sheer number of games available to players, not just “gamers,” can be mind-boggling and even intimidating, which is why you’re seeing the proliferation of sites that package together hundreds of games in one place. Sites like Friv appeal to players of all ages by offering free fun games, as well Friv 4 school.

It is the way of the world. Apps targeted to pre schoolers dominate iPad and Android sales. Many of those games are free or have nominal monthly fees. Educators and now even employers are using Gamification techniques to engage and inspire their students and employees to improve their performance, whether in the classroom or at work.

The games themselves are amazing, and getting better. Kids games in particular have learned how to teach the alphabet and math through simple game playing that can be experienced by both parents and their children. That’s the value of sites like Friv.com, which bundle practically all the games you would not to spend hours with your kids — or by yourself.

There is evidence that intellectual and motor skills are improved by gaming. Think of this then as the best of all possible worlds. Years ago, teachers talked about learning being fun, but it really wasn’t for most people. Now, it can be. Life has been turned upside down. No longer is gaming looked down upon. In fact, rather the opposite is true. Learning, it seems, really can be fun, if you have the right app.

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