Review of Dig It Games: Mayan Mysteries

I am always on the look out for good educational games. Often my kids will respond well to games as a new and different way to learn something. When I saw this Mayan Mysteries game from Dig-It Games, I had a particular child of mine in mind. But as we played the game, I was surprised to see how it went over with my crew.

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Dig-It Games offers archaeology-based history games to discover more about the ancient Mayans and ancient Romans. The website also describes an upcoming game that will be an interactive texting game with participating museums.

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We received a one user license for either the ipad app or online version of Mayan Mysteries. I chose the online version because I don’t have an ipad.

A one year single user license for Mayan Mysteries is $21.99. They do offer a classroom license. The game is targeted at 5th-9th graders. It is purposefully designed to correspond to Common Core standards.

When I first received the game license, I took it for a spin. I thought it was interesting. I’m a history buff, and the concept of being an archaeologist digging for ancient secrets was lots of fun for me.

When the game is launched, a screen shows the player’s name and any achievements earned so far.

The game begins on an opening screen that instantly draws your attention by looking “cool.”

Once you begin play, you can visit various locations on ancient Mayan maps.

In the location chosen, there will be a scene with exclamation marks over people or objects. Clicking on these takes the player into an activity.

The activities range from answering questions to escaping poachers, to digging up artifacts, to solving puzzles and more.

After I had time to take a look at the game, I had my son play it. He was the one I had originally pictured enjoying the game. He is 12 and is a 7th grader. He loves computer games, and I thought that he would particularly enjoy the archaeology aspect of the game.

One thing to note: the game is for a single user license. Other players can use the game, but you have to either play on one game or start over with a new player.

Charles started over on his own game.

And immediately we realized the fatal flaw in this game for him- the amount of reading.

In order to answer the questions, solve the puzzle, find the clues, etc., players have to read quite a bit of information. Sometime this information is in the form of a journal or notebook of information. Sometimes it is in a graphic novel format. Sometimes it is on a map. Sometimes it is the words of a particular character. But there is quite a bit of reading involved in this game.

Charles is a good reader. But he really, really, really dislikes reading. And reading and game are not things that go together in his mind. After a short time, he was ready to be done with the game.

I encouraged him to stick with it, knowing that once he was into an activity he would enjoy it. So he played on for a while.

His verdict: “I wouldn’t choose to play it for fun, but if I have to learn this in history anyway, I would rather do it this way than through a book.”

And then I brought in my daughter. Kathryne is 13 and a rising 9th grader. She does enjoy reading and history. But computer games aren’t really her thing.

She started playing and never looked back.

She enjoyed the reading. She enjoyed the step by step process of the game- first solve this, then read this, then click this. It was perfect for the way she thinks. She asked me to please not let anyone else play it until she finished the game.

What it really came down to for us was the reading involved in the game. The game was interesting and a novel way to learn about ancient cultures. However, a child who has difficulty reading or who views reading as a task is not going to enjoy this as a game.

As a parent educator, I was impressed with the quality of the game. I’m interested in the other game, the Roman Town, because we will be covering Ancient Rome in our history this upcoming semester. We enjoyed this one enough to consider the other to correspond with our curriculum.

I did notice that, while the online version I received was for a year license, the ipad app is a one time purchase. I’m interested to read the other Schoolhouse reviews from those who tried the ipod app to compare the two.

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 You can read more reviews for this online version and the ipod app by clicking below.


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