I spent the day this past Thursday at The National School Supply & Equipment Association’s annual Ed Expo and Dealer Conference in Baltimore. I wanted to see what are being marketed as educational games. I had been told by one publisher that quite a few game companies exhibit at this show, including some that I wouldn’t catch elsewhere. That was certainly true. I ended up meeting with 15 different companies and seeing 49 new games.

Perhaps not surprisingly, much of what I saw were roll-and-move-trivia games—trivia in the form of math problems, grammar questions, and science facts, but trivia nonetheless. It’s a category that doesn’t inspire me as a gamer. But I do recognize that such games may have their place in an educational setting, where they could be viewed more as structured activities than as games.

Of course, I also think there’s a lot of educational value to games with more interesting gameplay, and so I was happy to demo some cool new products from MindWare, to say hello to Alliance Game Distributors, and hang out for a few minutes with Mayfair, who was also a sponsor of the show.

For the publishers among our readership that are not familiar with this show, I think it’s worth considering if your products are aimed at the preschool through elementary level. That seemed to be the focus. Many of the games were labeled with grade levels rather than age ranges. And most vendors were ready with information on how their products addressed the Common Core Standards. Also, my understanding from talking to the vendors was that attendees were mostly retailers, rather than educational institutions.

Watch this space over the next couple of days for more information on some of the specific games that were on display.