Thursday 18 July 2013

Scribblenauts Unlimited, is unlimited enough

I've dropped some words on the topic of interactive edutainment before, and it is something that interests me. I think there is a lot to be said for games in which we learn, which played no small part in my picking up Scribblenauts Unlimited.

Scribblenauts, as a franchise, revolves around the mechanic that you throw words at the game and it makes those words into things to accomplish the tasks that the game presents. The game is a puzzle game, which isn't really very challenging as a puzzle game. What the game does have is an interesting exploration mechanic. It's a sandbox. Sandbox games are pretty in right now, and a lot of games are sandbox games.

Where it really shines though is when you go off script, as any good sandbox game should. Since installation I have spent the vast majority of my total play time stress testing the game's dictionary. though there are words that it doesn't understand, its list of suggestions definitely includes things that I not only hadn't thought of, but regularly includes things I absolutely don't recgonise as words that are a part of the English language.

I totally ignored this game initially, because the video I saw for it was totally uninspiring. It's not a bad video, but I feel like Scribblenauts Unlimited really shines in what is already included in the game. The game comes with thousands of things and people with preprogrammed associations and behaviours. It also comes with a staggering set of adjectives that will alter the associations and behaviours of your things and people (they're nouns). I made Don Quixote, and he smashed my windmill. I also conducted some fairly extensive research in my gladiatorial arena, and Zeus is pretty bad-arse. So is anyone with a magic spear. So is a huge, fire-breathing, flying, robot gorilla.

While this game is crazy fun to muck about with as an adult, I feel like it really would shine as an educational title for primary students. It definitely showboats its direct learning potential as far as spelling, vocabulary and word association are concerned, but it also packs a ton of tangential learning opportunities through its inclusion of historical and literary figures, professionals, technology, heavenly bodies, animals (including marsupials), more dinosaurs than any game I have ever previously encountered, and <keep inserting categories>. The one downside that I have come across is that you don't appear to be able to change the spelling from US English.

The game is available for Windows, Wii U and 3DS, with the Nintendo titles including their proprietary characters and things (nouns). There is also an earlier title for the iOS called Scribblenauts Remix which I assume is available in the app store. There doesn't seem to be a demo for the game, which makes sense if you think about it, but fortunately youtube is rife with the things you can do in Scribblenauts Unlimited. Alternatively, you can come and play mine. 

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