A fun and immersive game, this app is an educational adventure for kids.
The first in a series of Tales apps from the independent game developer Kuato Studios, Dino Tales is at heart a 3rd person… sorry, dinosaur RPG (role-playing game), with a surprisingly vast and vibrant 3D world to discover.
Guided by your mentor, Darwin (a choicely-named dinosaur, not the bearded guy you keep mistaking for Karl Marx and Santa), you set off on your own personal Jurassic adventure; interacting with other dinosaurs, playing mini-games, completing challenges and generally being an all-round explorer. Some of the challenges and mini-games included are the musical boneyard, river rapids, boulder bowling and lava slides.
Along with playing the game, you also document and edit your own personal Dino Tale, choosing the wording for adjectives and nouns etc. This is a great way for kids to get a good understanding of basic grammar, vocabulary and syntax; they’ll soon be eager to play a key role in journalising their shenanigans and want to use the right words to make it their own.
This game offers the kind of free-roam gameplay that has been known to steal hours away from kids, and is a clear choice by the developers, as your time-consuming exploration is rewarded with knowledge, facts and reading exercises. There’s nothing sneaky or underhand about Kuato Studios’ approach – it is what it is; an educational adventure game – the developers even worked alongside parents and educational experts, so you can definitely trust the content.
In fact, as David Miller, Co-Founder of Kuato Studios and Guardian/Pearson UK Teacher of the Year explains, ‘It has always been a strong aspect of the studio mission when creating games that the environment should stimulate questions – real questions that a child wants answers to – scientific and personal!
We want to encourage the input of parents, grandparents, teachers and friends too. Children are naturally curious about language. Giving them a physical way to alter meaning and think about the relationships between words has to be a huge positive for any child’s language development.’
Just in case you’re concerned about your kiddo spending far too long staring at a screen, the game also provides parents with “Parent Corner”, a pin-secure area where you can set reading age and limit the length of their sessions.
The actual game-play and control layout are very simple and commonly used configurations for tablets and smart phones, so kids – with their nimble little tech-ready thumbs – will have no problem picking up this game and getting straight into it.
It’s important to remember that this is an educational game aimed at 4-10 year olds, not the kind of fast-paced action game that older kids are used to indulging in. However, with all the vibrant and entertaining elements a child within this age bracket can’t fail to enjoy, the educational factor doesn’t drag the game down or make it any less playable. Kids will very quickly find themselves invested, so it’s definitely an effective way to get them learning.
‘The Studio set itself a mission – to ensure that game design and learning design were an equal partnership in the overall game experience. We challenge ourselves to create games that are fun to play and engaging in their learning; where learning is an integral part of the game, and not just an add on. How best to stimulate a child’s imagination than with a rich collection of characters, stimulating scenery and fun situations.’
Content-wise, the game is very safe and stays true to its suggested age-range. There is no violence or gore, and the fear-factor is about a 2/10 on the scare-scale – who knew ferocious dinosaurs could be so cute?
For those parents who may fear this is yet another app that will deter kids from real-life adventures, David suggests that Dino Tales will instead inspire a positive attitude towards learning and interacting with parents.
‘The best learning should feel like an adventure… A game that encourages little in the way of meaningful conversation with peers or with the adults in their life, is likely to be less effective as a vector for learning than one that encourages curiosity, and stimulates the sharing of a creative imagination. We love the idea that dads will sit with their children, reading the storybooks, playing with the verbs, adjectives and adverbs, asking Darwin questions… All part of the adventure of learning!’
Recommended for parents with kids who just can’t switch off their enthusiasm for adventure, Dino Tales is the perfect expedition for families.
Dino Tales is out February 5th on iPads, iPhones and iPod Touch. The game retails for £2.99 on the Apple App Store and includes six customisable dinosaurs.