Okay, I'll admit it -- I got so enthralled in playing the game that my children were supposed to be reviewing that I stayed up way past my bedtime. I'm not normally a computer game person. I don't do the games on facebook, and I stink at nearly everything on the wii. When I played Roman Town, I kept wanting to do just a little bit more, and then a bit more, and then one more excavation.
Roman Town is an educational computer game created by Dig-It! Games. They advertise it as "all the fun of a real archaeological excavation without getting your hands dirty!"
Perhaps if I show you what I did on the game, you'll understand why I kept saying, "I'll just do one more excavation site and then I'll go to bed."
This is my excavation site. Can you see the little stick figures digging for me? I picked out which tools they should use. The diggers did the bulk of the work and called for me when they uncovered something that I might be interested in.
When they found something, I used my trowel to carefully scrape away the dirt to see what we discovered. Each artifact was explained, and often the program told extra facts about Roman Life. They refer to it as LEARN -- Locate Engrossing And Remarkable Knowledge. For instance, I now know that Romans had mosaics that spelled out "Cave Canum." These roughly equate to our modern day "Beware of Dog" signs.
After uncovering everything in my site, I sorted everything into appropriate categories (pottery versus metal) and moved on to the lab.
Sometimes I needed to piece together the objects that I uncovered. This three dimensional amphorea was more challenging than the two dimensional mosaic I did on another dig.
After completing several activities, I could complete my lab report. The lab report was a fill-in-the-blank paragraph that requires the archaeologist to be familiar with the new aspects of Roman life that were introduced during that excavation. At first Brennan found the lab report to be quite difficult, primarily because he didn't want to slow down and read all of the information given for each object.
Even though Brennan really didn't take the time to read all the information, but he still thought the game was really cool. He liked learning about archeology and using the tools. About a week ago, he told me that he learned a lot about what life was back then -- you know, when the Indians were living in America. That's when I realized that I needed to hover nearby to make sure he was actually doing some of the reading. He was caught the next day when he couldn't complete the lab report and move on to the next dig site.
Addison thought this was a good computer game, even though she'd rather email her friends when she has time to work on the computer. She remembers a lot of the information from our previous Roman studies, and she suggested that this would be an excellent game to play while studying Ancient Rome or Pompeii.
My only complaint about the program is that much of the information needs to be read and that there is no audio captioning. My guess is that it would require a child to be reading at least at a third or fourth grade level. I suspect that's why the program is recommended for 5th through 8th graders. I suspect that Brennan would have learned a lot more about Roman Life if the information was verbal instead of written. Younger students or struggling readers would likely enjoy this game but might need a parent nearby to help do the reading.
Roman Town is available on CD and normally costs $39.95. Right now it is only available for Windows computers, but a MAC version is coming soon. For the next few weeks (until Feb. 21, 2011), Dig It! is offering a special coupon code --- the coupon code TOS2011 allows you to get the game for only $19.96.
As always, you can find more opinions about the Roman Town archeology game on The Old Schoolhouse Crew blog.
If you do decide to play Roman Town, please don't blame me if you get caught up in playing it yourself and don't get enough sleep. I will not feel guilty about sleepy parents, and I will not referee any arguments about who's turn it is to play Roman Town next.