It is often difficult to find video games for children that are both fun, and educational. The Scribblenauts series of games hits this combo right on the head and is available on a variety of gaming platforms to boot.
The premise of the games is a simple one. Explore colourful, cartoon worlds filled with endless possibilities. Within each world are scenarios that one must solve by spelling out words. For example, a guitar player will ask you to make him someone he can play music with and the player could spell out “singer” or “drummer” and it would be considered correct. Once the word is entered, the image spelled out pops up on screen and interacts with the things around it. If one were to put a cat and a dog in the same space, they would fight and the dog would win.
This game series is very well developed, and will recognize a massive library of words. Around 10, 000 words to be more precise. With such a large library, it allows for kids to be extremely creative and often urges them to think outside of the box in their problem solving.
There is even an edition of the game that incorporates famous superheroes and supervillains into the mix called “Scribblenauts Unmasked”. In this version, the same basic premise applies; use words to solve problems, but in this edition the player explores DC and Marvel universes and fights villains. One can also spawn popular Nintendo characters such as Mario, Luigi, Link and Zelda in this specific edition of the game.
Overall, the Scribblenauts series offers a few key educational advantages:
Spelling: When one inputs a word into their notebook, it will usually pop up in the real world as an interactive object. However, if there are multiple variations available of that word, or the word is spelt wrong, it will open up a list of available object words to spawn within the game. Kids will then be able to choose the word they were looking for from that list with its correct spelling. It allows for kids who are playing to understand and see words that they have spelt wrong, and their correct spellings in comparison.
Adjectives: Another major focus of the Scribblenauts series, is adjectives. Adding specific adjectives to objects in the game will change their properties, and a lot of the missions given to a player in the game focus around this idea. One can click on an object in the world and it will allow the player to modify it with an adjective. Kids have to think up the correct adjective given the challenges, and it forces them to think outside of the box to solve the puzzle.
Creativity: As a whole, Scribblenauts encourages kids to be as creative as possible. Some challenges in the game require very specific items to be spawned or modified, but some are very open ended. There are endless possibilities in the ways one can “make regular objects into the cast and props of a horror movie” and the game will recognize virtually all of them. Kids can even use the game mechanics to customize their character; change their outfit, headgear and colours endlessly. One can even use adjectives to modify themselves, such as “flying”, “running”, “invincible” or “invisible” to improve their character within the game.
Overall, Scribblenauts is a unique and entertaining game for kids (and adults!) of all ages, that can be played alone or in a group. It provides educational advantages, and encourages kids to think outside the box to solve in game problems and puzzles.
It available for purchase on the WiiU, Nintendo DS and PC.