Rain rain go away, although this game is moderately fun to play
June 25, 2008 6:29 AM   Subscribe

Awesome but slightly rambunctious 8th grade class going on a school trip to the country. Rain is possible. Possibility of ultra-rare recreational computer access is likely to be a highly compelling reward for good behavior. The kids speak German. With all of these givens, what non-crack-like game should I install on the beater iBook G3 12" running 10.4 that I'm sending the teacher off with?

Disclaimers: there is already a no-tech primary rain strategy involving books, indoor sports, board games, the lost art of conversation, etc. For those folks who feel that every second of a trip out of the city should be technology-free, I think the goal here is that nearly all of the seconds should be technology-free, but only a newbie teacher wouldn't keep an ace in the hole on a weeklong trip. For those folks who feel that every second of kid technology exposure should be educational, I'm mostly setting up the computer so the kids can take and store photos and blog their trip if they get antsy, [see last clause of previous sentence]. Just write me privately if you're bothered by the underlying premise, that's totally fine and I won't bite.

So, Mac-compatible non-system-demanding games which don't specifically require English skills (a few words are fine or even possibly beneficial), ideally which don't have unusually addictive qualities, with bonus points for having a cooperative mode. If you can further suggest something with redeeming virtues, I'd be most indebted. Thanks!
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks to Education (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Snood, perhaps? No real language needed in a puzzle game, and no shooting/fighting.
posted by Wild_Eep at 6:41 AM on June 25, 2008

You Don't Know Jack!
posted by Hugh2d2 at 6:49 AM on June 25, 2008

Possibly a stupid question, but will they have Internet access while on the trip?

(Because if they're anything like the eighth-graders that I know, the majority of them would rather spend limited computer time on MySpace/Facebook than playing games.)
posted by box at 7:08 AM on June 25, 2008

Response by poster: Nope, no chance of net access. The plan isn't really to let them do whatever they like best with the machine, but instead there are a few options: you can blog with photos (to be uploaded to the school intranet once they're back at school), you can write a story, or if you were great today you can play the game for a bit. Not trying to provide all the comforts/distractions of e-home.

In previous years the blogging was actually the big hit, but it's been reported back to me that getting to do something non-goal-oriented/not-expressly-educational with the computer for a little while is a good treat, and I'm just wondering if there is something better than Tetris to put on there.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 7:28 AM on June 25, 2008

My guess is that given the enviroment and the restrictions, anything you put on there will become a great reward. Since they do not have the wide variety of options they would at home, ANY game will seem like a wonderful reward.

That said, I second the notion that puzzle games are the way to go. The "hidden image" genre of games is very engrossing for short bursts, and can also be very cooperative. An example would be Madame Fate, although there are many choices. My SO and I, both over 40, got very in to this, but in small spurts. We also played together, since having two object spotters made the game more enjoyable.

As a bonus, just about the time you are tired of the game, the reward time would be up.

I wasn't clear though, if your students speak German and English. If they only speak German, I'm not sure if this would work. However, there are probably similar games available in German.
posted by Futurehouse at 8:09 AM on June 25, 2008

Response by poster: anything you put on there will become a great reward.

Nah, if it sucks, they won't like it. It's a fine line between operating in good faith about what constitutes fun (no grim edutainment experiments) without offering something waaay more compelling than interacting with each other and investigating the new place, etc, which would be kind of an own goal and probably lead to stress instead of being a reward. I'm looking for fun versus FUN!!! I realize it's a very picky thing and I appreciate the tolerance.

I think the hidden image games are a good lead, thank you. They speak a little bit of English and are probably fine with puzzle games where the puzzle isn't reliant on English skills.

Thanks for the suggestions so far!
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 8:44 AM on June 25, 2008

Tux Racer has always kept me occupied for minutes at a time. It's free, and it runs smooth on just about any machine. Plus, it's pretty straightforward (move the penguin down the hill)

Also, you might want to pick your way through this list of Linux games, since they all have a mac version. All Linux games use OpenGL to render stuff and have relatively low system requirements.
posted by hellojed at 8:55 AM on June 25, 2008

Armagetron sounds like it would fit the bill: not totally addicting; cooperative and competitive play; should work on your system; no big time commitment; no language barrier; free. Heh, in fact, come to think of it, I played pencil and paper-based versions of Tron light cycles at that age.

Man, I wish someone would produce a Tron light cycle IRL already.
posted by GPF at 9:09 AM on June 25, 2008

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