Found: Hidden object games

I confess, I’ve been hunting and evaluating hidden object games for literacy purposes for nearly a year now, so I’m kind of coming at this from a skewed background. But having played nearly a dozen hidden object games to their conclusions with this growing awareness of literacy needs in mind, I’m starting to put together a list of hidden object games I think are particularly worthwhile*.

One game I’m particularly enamored of is Sea Legends: Phantasmal Light. It’s the story of a couple who are shipwrecked on an island by a freak storm, and one half of the couple awakens just in time to see — or think she sees — her boyfriend being kidnapped.

Determined to rescue him, she sets off to explore the island, solving puzzles and hidden object scenes along the way. But these activities are all in aid of her rescuing the boyfriend and simultaneously determining whether the lighthouse on the island is haunted.

It’s a hidden object game: you explore a landscape, drill down into smaller sections of the landscape to find tools you need for tasks and solve a bigger puzzle. It’s self-paced and non-competitive; the flip side of that is that it’s non-collaborative.

The only rule I’d modify if using this with students is to come to some agreement with them as to whether they want to play with standard hint availability (refreshes on a 60-second clock), challenge hint availability (refreshes on a 2-minute clock) or with no hints. These games really strike me as a way for individual students to work on their literacy and vocabulary skills rather than as in-class collaborative exercises. But as one 5th grade teacher commented, they’re exactly right for taking the stigma out of being a student aged for one grade level with the literacy or English skills of someone much younger.

Why do I like this particular game so much? For one over-riding reason: you’re not going to win if you don’t puzzle through the diary entries, gravestone epitaphs, newspaper clippings and instructional sheets that provide information for you to solve the main mystery.

For instance, this.

Also, I haven’t found any of spelling and semantics problems; items in locations make sense as to why they’d be there (why is there a cat in this nest of owlets? And a jack-in-the-box?) and are spelled correctly and in accord with US English (there’s no such thing as a candle-sniffer, Enigmatis. I looked it up to make sure.)

Sea Legends has the potential to be more than a straight-forward vocabulary testing tool. I found the story to be compelling, and appreciated the gender politics at play. I could see asking the student to summarize the story via a written or oral assignment, and I’d feel comfortable assigning it as work the student could feel comfortable playing with the support of his/her family.

Now I just have to figure out how to clone it.

*Still looking for a blog that evaluates them in literacy terms.

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