WHAT IS IT?:
Mayan Mysteries is an educational history-oriented mystery game that can either be played via online subscription on PC or MAC for $21.99/year for a single user or via an app for the iPad for $9.99.
Through interactive gameplay, students can visit Maya sites, uncover and analyze artifacts, decode glyphs, explore the mysterious Maya calendar, learn the intriguing Maya math system, solve puzzles, and gather clues to track the character Ladrone.
This mystery game is specifically designed for students in grades 5-9 or ages 11+. Students will combine in-depth study of Maya civilization and culture with activities that test reading comprehension, geographical knowledge, spatial reasoning, and science and math skills. It includes an in-game encyclopedia, which allows students to explore information on such topics as the Maya governmental system, farming practices, and their beliefs about time.
My 13-year old son, Hayden, was the primary candidate to try out this game. He was in the target age range, so he got to try it first. The game is designed to provide about 12 hours of gameplay. He played a little each day over the course of about 3-4 days, and he completed the game in what he estimated to be about 6 hours in total. He likes mysteries, though, and is really adept at computer and online gameplay, so that may or may not be typical of most players his age.
He said he learned quite a few facts about the Mayan culture and history that were new to him. We’ve previously studied this topic pretty extensively, so I was impressed that he still learned something new.
To play, you log in with your username and password, and then gameplay is launched. As you progress through the three levels of play, you have opportunities to earn a number of achievement badges along the way. These include the Golden Trowel, Eagle Eye, Genius Decoder, Math Maniac, Time Traveler, Ichaak Idol, Colossal Collector, various Site Superstars, and various Puzzle Perfectionists.
The game has a number of settings you can adjust, which include volume levels for the music, sound effects, and voice, as well as whether or not you want to turn on audio for the scripted portions to be automatically read aloud to you. This game does involve a lot of reading, so kids might enjoy turning on that feature so they don’t get tired of reading the scripts to themselves. Personally, I thought the music and sound effects were pretty cool, and my son did, too.
Hayden managed to collect 6 of the 15 achievement badges, 15 of 47 artifacts, and did 16 puzzles with a score of 91,015. So despite having completed the mystery up to this point, he also has the option to reset the game and start over, attempting to collect more badges and artifacts the next time around.
Once he reached the end of the game, he was congratulated and then taken to this screen:
Surprise! From that, it seems the chase continues in an upcoming sequel adventure called Mayan Mysteries 2. Sounds like fun!
Overall, Hayden thought the game was fun and educational, but he did say he wished it had been a bit more challenging. To him, the game seemed rather easy, but he is almost 14 and just started 9th grade, so he’s definitely at the higher end of the recommended age. In contrast with my daughter, who is almost 9, the level of gameplay seemed more challenging for her and perhaps more age-appropriate because of that. She played the free demo before we got access to the full version game, and she was totally hooked! She couldn’t wait for her brother to finish the adventure so she could have a turn to play the whole game, which she just started working on by clicking on “start new” after he finished the game.
I think if your students were studying this topic in history, this game would make a fun and engaging way to supplement their studies and explore the topic further. The game is fun and something that kids can look forward to doing while still learning some history.
Check out what other Crew members thought of this online game as well as the iPad app by clicking the banner below.