I am not a big fan of video games. I think children these days spend too much time in front of a screen rather than interacting with real-world objects. I am convinced that kids learn a lot more about geometry and spatial relationships by doing crafts that make them cut out shapes from cardboard, paint them and assemble them, than they would learn by watching a 3-D movie.
But someone showed me a new interactive learning environment called Adventure Academy and I was really blown away. This looks like a video game, in the sense that each player is represented by an avatar that can walk around the school and on the grounds outside, but it is full of puzzles and challenges that you have to solve in order to move to the next level and earn cool stuff to dress up your avatar.
I tried it myself, trying to experience the game as a 10-year old. I needed some time to get used to navigating in a virtual environment, but I imagine that today’s kids will catch on a lot quicker. (There were no computers around when I was 10).
I actually found this learning game quite addictive. There are a great variety of learning resources scattered around the school. Some of them are books or videos that act like class lectures. But I found that the most stimulating ones were puzzles and quizzes that you have to solve in order to move to the next level or to earn “coins” that you can use in one of the stores on the school grounds. (These coins are purely virtual, no actual money enters the game play).
Kids avatars can talk to the teachers or to the headmaster, and they can also chat among themselves. Parents can limit the chat capabilities, for instance by restricting them to canned responses only, or disable chat altogether.
The one negative thing I could say about this game is that sometimes there is a short waiting time while the game is downloading content for the next step, even with my high-speed connection. But I got used to that.
I only tried playing on a desktop computer. There is also an app for iOS and Android, but I feel a small phone screen may not do justice to the beautifully rendered school environment. Laptops and tablets should be ok, though.
But don’t take my word for it. Try it out for yourself; the first 30 days are free! It’s fun!
Disclosure: As an affiliate, Animaplates receives a small compensation if you use a link in this article to get an Adventure Academy membership.