Games that have great teaching moments.

It is important to have the games played in context of a unit and that the students have a learning intention that they understand and can achieve.
I have placed the games below in curriculum areas, but all the games could be shown to help students achieve learning outcomes in literacy when the curriculum states that in English, students study, use and enjoy language and literature communicated orally, visually, or in writing. If we bring in the Key competencies then again, video games are great.

PC games

Curriculum Area: Social Science

Rome Total War Learn all about the Ancient Rome. Start with a small Roman village and expand your empire to the edges of the known world over 400 years of human development. Learn about the developments in science, politics and culture. Learn about all the different regions of ancient Europe and so much more. Can rein-act all the most famous battles of the day.
Children of the Nile ancient Egypt, from a small village on the Nile to a Mega city. Watch farmers harvest reeds from the banks of the Nile and take then to the basket weaver who turns them into baskets for sale. Follow individuals from dawn till dusk, see the city grow under your guidance over hundreds of years.
Civilisation Follow a civilisation from before they discover the wheel to when they finish their space programme. Learn more about the advances of human civilisation by living it. Decide whether your civilisation should research farming or the alphabet and see what consequences it has for your world.

Curriculum Area: Science

Sandbox Universe Play god with the universe. Change the gravity of the sun and see what happens to the earth. Throw base ballls into orbit around Jupiter. Watch galaxies collide.
Portal Physics based puzzle game which looks like a FPS(fisrt person shooter). Was given away free for a while last year as part of an educational push. Can also find a free 2D version online here.
SimCity Simulating a city. Build it right or watch it die. not enough sewage pipes? Too many malls? Start with a full city and then react to disasters. The latest version(up to 5) has a setting where you can go and wander around your virtual city as a person on the street.

Great game for problem solving and team work: Minecraftimagine living in a lego world and having to survive day and night, finding or growing food, exploring a world bigger than the Earth. My 6 year old can go to the beach, dig up sand, build a furnace, cook the sand, turn it into glass, then craft the glass into window panes which he then can place in his tree house. He did get lost for two days in a forest when he went off to chop wood and did not pay attention to where he was going, so that was a good lesson learnt. There are also schools now and teachers who are incoprorating it into their actual planning. schools can purchase the software at half price. Here is a video interview with a teacher.