Friday, July 12, 2013

TOS Review: Dig-It Games Mayan Mysteries Online Game

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Kaden(10), Adam(12), and Mia(14) recently played Dig-It Games Mayan Mysteries Online Game as part of a review.

We don't have much in the way of video games, but the kids really get into the ones they do play. I'm very picky about content, of course, so I'm always on the lookout for good, clean, fun games. When we were given the opportunity to be involved in a review for the educational Mayan Mysteries game I was excited and knew the kids would jump right in. What a win-win: educational AND fun.

Mayan Mysteries is an online game that allows the user to become an investigator seeking a looter of Maya artifacts. The game player explores the ancient Maya world, learning about the calendar, artifacts, numbering system, and customs by solving puzzles.

The game begins with a backstory and then immediately moves into a "lesson" about geography and culture. The "lesson" is presented as a short narrative by one of the characters in the game, so it's more entertaining than Mom or a teacher presenting. As I said, the narrative is short, so it doesn't have time to feel too "schooly". Immediately after a quiz is presented applying the information given in the narrative. Scoring points and earning clues is accomplished by completing the quizzes. After a few rounds of geography, all presented differently, the game moves on to another theme and goal.

Dig-it Games Logo photo dig-it-games-logo_zps61887cb9.pngThe kids liked the game. Kaden found some of the math challenging, but worked through it. He said, "It was fun". Adam got very involved in the game, even suggesting that we start using Mayan numerals in our day-to-day lives! He liked learning about the Maya; where they lived, what they ate, what they did, "everything".  Mia didn't play as far into it as the boys, getting sidetracked, but thought it ok (she may be outgrowing this type of game).

This is a program the kids can do, for the most part, independently. I did step in and help clarify a few of the directions, other than that they played on their own.

More technical information about the skills taught can be found here and here.

I liked that the game was fun, educational, and non-violent, and that learning about Maya history and life was being taught without feeling like a day at school. I thought it was a really interesting and innovative approach to teaching an important bit of history, not a full text, by any means, but a great Maya history "appetizer" or "dessert". Some of the directions could have been a bit clearer, but there was nothing that couldn't be worked through and figured out. The kids would have liked to see the game continue further.

Mayan Mysteries is designed for players ages 11 and up, though Kaden (age 10) enjoyed it as well. Mayan Mysteries Online Game can be purchased through Dig-It Games for $21.99, or as a classroom multi-user edition for $299.00. It is also available as an iPad app.

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew.

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