It’s always an wonder how games can entice people to learn new things. Over the years, there have been a number of new types of games that assist in teaching everything from language to math. Unfortunately, good educational games are often a rare commodity due to the fact that most of them come off as stagnant and users generally expect that they will not be very fun. Nonetheless, there are games out there that break through these preconceived notions.
Playfish just released a new title that fits the definition of an educational game and combines it with the social aspects they are known for. The game is called Geo Challenge, and while it will not let you earn a PhD in geography, it does help to recall some of the basic worldly knowledge most people tend to forget after passing that high school geography class.
The game is wonderfully presented with an easy to use interface, non-intrusive yet atmospheric music, and attractive graphics. As soon as users clicks play they are immediately able to comprehend the game play, and proceed through a series of matching-style mini-games. Players begin in the midst of a busy airport and start sorting tourist suitcases by matching country names to their corresponding flags.
After the first mini-game, players move forward to match country shapes, followed by placing pins on a world map to show the location of cities they need to find. Of course, none of these mini-games expects the user to be 100% right, so Playfish takes measures to narrow down the answers. For example, in the suitcase game, the wrong answers are slowly removed as time passes, so that even if players do not know the exact answer they can still make educated guesses from the reduced choices.
As one would expect from Playfish at this point, the game includes good social context. Geo Challenge allows users to invite friends and challenge their knowledge of the world against your own. The app also shows just the player’s friends, players within the same city, or a global leader board by week, month, or all time.
Players are also capable of earning and receiving trophies for display. These trophies are earned through specific achievements like, “Score over 10,000 points without making a mistake.” In addition, upon completion of the game, you’re given a title (i.e. “Bus Driver”) according to your score. You’re also given a horoscope-like blurb that describes your personality that is not only amusing to read, but in some cases frighteningly accurate.
Geo Challenge is a fun, educational, and great looking social game. Granted, the game is no Carmen Sandiego, but it is a big step in the right direction.