Feb 4, 2011

We Are Digging Roman Town!

I recently had the opportunity to review for the This Old Schoolhouse Magazine Review Crew the archeology-based game "Roman Town". This game is from Dig-It! Games, maker of interactive educational games.

No bones about it, we loved this game. Loved, loved, loved it. It helps that we love history anyway, not many families have as a favorite past-time visiting cemeteries and battlefields. It probably also helps that my children have cousins who have spent time living in the vicinity of Mount Vesuvius, the setting for the game. Beyond those factors, however, the game is simply enjoyable!

The game was developed by archaeologist Suzi Wilczynski and it invites students to enter the world of archeology by becoming an archaeologist. The student manages a team of diggers, assigning them to specific dig sites and specifying which tool they are to use. When a digger indicates that they have located something of interest the student excavates the item at which point they are invited to L.E.A.R.N, or Locate Engrossing And Remarkable Knowledge (although really I guess it should then be called "L.E.A.R.K" but I guess that wouldn't make much sense). This includes lectures on the discovered artifacts and categorizing artifacts as well as the chance to reconstruct the item in 2 or 3D, distinguish between the artifacts and their 21st century counterparts, take tours and make reports. The game teaches vocabulary and history as well as giving a realistic look into the life of an archaeologist, from the frustration of having diggers who uncover nothing to the necessary report writing. There are additional mini-games offered free on the website as well as on the purchased game and the website also offers resources for parents and other educators such tips for expanding the game to create something akin to a unit study as well as links other archeology websites.

The game progresses through six different levels, with the mystery of the town of Fossura being uncovered with each progressive level. My children were obsessed with getting back to the game and mastering each level and what was discovered each day was a frequent topic at the dinner table.

The game allows for five different players and someone could play the game over and over as different artifacts are discovered each time the game is played.

I had some difficulties when I first received the downloadable version of the game made available to the reviewers (free of charge in exchange for this review). I am unsure as to whether the issues I was having was related to the download process or issues within my computer but regardless, the support I received at Dig-It! was exemplary. They went over and above what was necessary in their customer service to help me solve the problem and I am so thrilled that they did, as once we were able to properly download it we have really enjoyed this game. Mom played it as did everyone from a 21 year old daughter down to a ten year old son.

To summarize the positives--
Engrossing and definitely educational game, wide range of audience, many different permutations to keep the game fresh. Customer service really excelled.

Now the negatives--

The game seemed somewhat buggy in unexpected ways. The game itself was great, but there were a few times when playing the mini-games on the website that we were unable to have the game function as it should. The music was a little eerie but it may have been the fact that I think I was hearing it for hours on end some days due to the popularity of the game here at our house. This game is difficult for non-readers to play. My children tend to learn to read later than the age that they would enjoy this game and unless someone was sitting with them to read large portions of the game to them they would not be able to really learn all that they could from playing. It would be nice if the game has an option to allow for the game to be narrated. Lastly, the cost of the game at $39.95 would prove a bit high at my house for what is, in the end, a supplemental educational item although I could see purchasing it for a family gift and they have provided a discount code for readers of the blog that makes it affordable for almost any homeschooling family.

In the end I can say that we really enjoyed this review. I found several of my children grumbling a little bit when history each week we reviewed this was not Ancient Rome but rather the Puritans and early Colonial America because they wanted to expand on what they were learning while playing the game!

I can say without reservation that this game is a truly enjoyable way to learn history and I hope that Roman Town is just the start of many such games to come from Dig-It!

To receive the discount for TOS Review Crew blog readers use the coupon code TOS2011 to get Roman Town for $19.96! This coupon expires on February 21, 2011. The usual price for Roman Town is $39.95, so this TOS2011 coupon for $19.96 is a significant savings. System requirements for the game Windows Vista/XP/2000; CPU 800 Mhz; RAM 412MB; Hard Drive 350MB.

1 comment:

April E. said...

I'm so glad you got it to work for you. We loved it, too! We'll be studying Ancient Rome in a few weeks, and we'll re-visit the program then. :D