[Review] Learn Geography (NDS)

March 2, 2010 at 5:37 pm Leave a comment

Title: Learn Geography
Media: Video Game (Nintendo DS)
Primary Subject: Geography

Full disclosure: I hate maps and geography. Yes, I teach history. No, that doesn’t mean I have to like maps. I find them boring and almost entirely without educational value. I don’t care where something is I only care why something is. Still, I loved the old Carmen San Diego games and I was hopeful this game would make geography and maps fun. It doesn’t.

This “game” is indicative of everything bad about edutainment. It is poorly made, ugly to look at and just plain boring. Despite having almost no game whatsoever the developers somehow managed to still have it not be remotely educational. Read on if you want to see exactly why it is so bad.

Motivational potential:
Yes, I actually like geography less having played this game. If a video game can’t make a subject even remotely interesting I am convinced it just isn’t my thing. Essentially all you do in the game is look at some vague clues and then click on which city you think it is. For example, the game might say “City was split until 1989.” You then click on Berlin. That’s it. Now you’re on to the next clue and city. There is no reward for being right and no penalty for being wrong. I mentioned Carmen San Diego before. That game, from like 1990 mind you, did essentially the same thing but had a story going along with it that was at least mildly entertaining.

Ah, but wait you say, what about mini-games? Every DS game has mini-games right? Well, yep, it sure does have mini-games. They range from the boring (crosswords!) to the mind-numbingly horrible (word jumble!). Once again, they lack any sort of rewards relying solely on their complete lack of fun to encourage you to play more.

Educational Potential
There is a map and there are countries on it. You can potentially learn random facts (up to 5!) about those countries. You may also end up learning that BAECH can be re-arranged to make the word BEACH as I learned this morning. It would be wrong to say there is no educational content here. It would be equally wrong to say there is any chance any one would ever take the time to learn from this game.

You may argue that I’m being unfair. Maybe the game was designed for young kids who don’t know that RRIVE unscrambles to make RIVER. While I can see the logic in that I cannot see the logic in expecting that kid to unscramble TRIUMPHAL ARCH as I had to last night or that kid knowing that Cannes is home to a famous film-festival. Fact is, I have no idea who this game is for and I’m not sure the developers did either.

Shame on the them. Not only did you make a bad game (which reminds me, the game has long load times to boot almost every new screen) but you somehow made learning geography less fun than it already is. Some poor kid is going to get this game as a gift and then hate history because of it. You have just set that kid back in his goal to reach the American dream. I hope you can still sleep at night. But hey, if you can’t, just try playing your game for 5 minutes – that’ll do the trick.


Entry filed under: Video Games.

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