Taking a game engine and use it for educational purposes seems to be a good idea! But watch out, it is not so easy as the MIT project »Colonial Williamsburg« is teaching us.
»Colonial Williamsburg« was an early serious games initiative that used Bioware’s Neverwinter Nights engine to create an online history game prototype for classroom use. Bioware’s engine was originally intended for creating fantasy role-playing scenarios, and the postmortem explores how the long-standing genre conventions inherent in Neverwinter Nights created unique barriers to achieving a classroom-ready historical simulation. Several examples are taken from the development of Revolution to showcase how using the Neverwinter Nights engine profoundly shaped the pedagogical goals of the project.
Designers and programmers were confronted with problems like:
- characters couldn`t take their hats off, because hats (helmets) and heads were strictly created as one unit
- characters couldn`t walk straight on streets
- »redesigning« characters: transfering young, almost naked women into historical figures is much more than putting chlothes on women´s bodies;-)))
- the »old« fonts needed weren`t available
- characters didn`t talk to each other; there was no communication between them
- because there was no communication there was no social response on any kind of action …
You can use a commercial game engine for educational purpose but you have to adapt it!
Adaptation can be a strong effort but still cheaper than building a new engine.