I don’t know if everyone feels this way, but I love the idea of being an archaeologist – of digging through the dirt to find relics and clues to an ancient past. I had the chance to go on a small archaelogical dig when I was in college. It was a site where both Native Americans and frontier era settlers had lived. We didn’t find much besides daub (bits of moist clay), but I did find a tooth from a pig that one of the settlers had raised.
Because of my own interest in ancient cultures and archaeology, I was thrilled to be able to review Roman Town, a computer game from DigIt! Games. This game allows your kid (or you!) to become an archeologist in an ancient Roman town that the story says was abandoned when Mount Vesuvius erupted. As an assistant to the professor, the player controls several diggers (beginning with six on the first level).
The player selects which tool a digger should use depending on the area being excavated. After a digger has reached a find, a little flag appears that the player can click on to do some more precise excavating. With a trowel, the player clicks to uncover the artifact. He can then click on “Learn More” to be told about the item. In the first level, which is the only one I’ve played so far, the artifacts include a clay vessel, a lamp, a portion of a mosaic, and other items.
In the “Learn More” screens, information about how the artifact was used are given along with information about Roman life in the town. It’s presented in a fun way that I think would hold the interest of most kids from ages nine and up. The player needs to be able to read well in order to fully enjoy the game, though. James, age six, has played but can’t really learn from the game. Nick, age ten, on the other hand, had played through three of the levels and is able to navigate through all the different sections.
Once all the artifacts on a level have been found, the player moves through different activities that help reinforce the info that’s presented. Don’t get me wrong – I’m talking about the educational aspects of the game, but everything is set up in a fun and interesting way. Most kids will see it as pure fun and not even thinking about its being educational! (The activities can be skipped if a player just wants to move on to the next level.)
The activities include games, puzzles, and screens where artifacts can be matched with their modern counterparts. The games, like calculi, are actual games that were played in ancient Rome. DigIt! Games has posted a video about Roman Town that shows how the game works.
Even though we’re not currently studying Rome or any related culture, I think Roman Town is great to play any time. It helps to build a fascination of the mystery of ancient cultures, and I believe that fascination is extremely important to develop a love of learning that lasts for a lifetime. I can see the interest students’ have in Roman Town leading to further study and maybe even a career in archeology.
Roman Town normally sells for $39.95 at the DigIt! Games website but is currently on sale for $19.96. Use the coupon code TOS2011 to get this discount.
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