Monday, July 15

Maya Mystery - A Review

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We've had fun sampling out a new app from Dig-It Games. My children all have a sick fascination with the ancient Mayans, so they've enjoyed playing with the Mayan Mysteries iPad App

This game was designed for children ages 9 and older. If you are considering it for younger students, keep in mind that the themes do include some fearful concepts. You can't learn about Mayans without a little human sacrifice entering the equation. Also, younger children would find the questions sections rather difficult, I think.

My 13 was impressed with the game, but felt it was intended for a younger audience. He liked it as an educational game because it requires paying attention to the history details in order to proceed in the games. Some educational games have fun activities with facts tossed in around the fun, with the hope that some of those facts will stick. This game makes you answer questions to continue with your fun. But he only liked it as a concerned older brother. He says it's fine for the girls, but he doubts anyone over 5th grade will enjoy it. This somewhat limits your audience, but for that limited age range, it is a great game. That said, when I played it to get a feel for it, I really felt that it was more of a fun educational assignment than a game. If assigned to my 13 year old as a history assignment, I am quite sure he would think it was a fun way to learn history. 
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The game begins with several pages of a comic strip story introduction. To proceed in the game, you help a group of characters follow clues to find an undiscovered Mayan city, and hopefully get there before looters can destroy artifacts. These characters share blurbs of information through boxes you click on to read. These boxes contain clipart and excellent photographs alongside reading sections. These reading sections contain embedded links to more and more information. The data is fascinating and given in small enough portions to not be overwhelming for readers.

Things I like:
  • I was impressed with the graphics. Very well done!
  • There is so much learning going on here! It is challenging, sometimes downright hard, but there is no denying the level of learning involved.
  • There is an audio option for players who would like the reading portions read aloud for them.
Things I didn't like:
  • When you answer a question incorrectly, it does not stop and tell you what the correct answer is. 
  • When you get stuck with a geography quiz, you have to start over from the beginning of the tutorial to get a hint. It doesn't matter if you have only 10% left to finish, you must start from the beginning if you need help.
  • Only one player can go through the game at a time. It does remember where you left off, but if someone else wants to play, they have to delete the original player's game to start at the beginning.
  • The game doesn't end with the reaching of the goal of the game. Players are trying to catch a thief and he doesn't get caught until Mayan Mysteries 2, which is unreleased.
My 9 year old loves the game. History and geography are some of her favorite things to study and they are what this game is all about. I'm not sure how many students would feel quite the same. I honestly thought some portions were quite challenging. The first geography quiz requires students to label a map with 9 country names and then 5 Mayan cities after seeing them only once. They can ask for hints, but this costs them points. I found it challenging for ME! Also,  many of the questions have inferred answers, not direct quotes. Some students can be quite intelligent, but not developmentally ready for that level of logic. 

Mayan Mysteries iPad App is available for $9.99 through iTunes. It is also available as an online game for $21.99. You can view a trailer preview on YouTube to get an idea about what it looks like.


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