Friday, February 4, 2011

Dig It! Roman Town


Welcome to the world of Dig It! Games, maker of Roman Town--a unique computer game that combines archeology, history, logic and FUN for the target audience of 5th - 8th grade students. But the game can be enjoyed by both younger and older audiences (we had users from 7 to 41 at our house).

Let me introduce you to the founder, Suzi Wilczynski:

The creative force behind Dig-It! Games, Suzi Wilczynski is a professional archaeologist with degrees from Dartmouth College and The University of Pennsylvania in Classical andMediterranean Archaeology. Suzi has spent many seasons digging in Greece and Israel, where she worked on sites ranging from the Early Bronze Agethrough the Byzantine period. She has traveled extensively throughout the Mediterranean region and is familiar with both the ancient and modern cultures of the area (from the Dig It! website).

With credentials like that, no wonder this game is so amazing! The game is sort of like an interactive comic book. There are a number of panels of characters with written dialogue/text. Users click through the screens at their own pace. In some places, you can also navigate back to previous screens in case you missed some information. Information needed to play each aspect of the game is provided right as you go along.

The user will have the experience of going on an archeological dig. During the process, students will learn about:
  • Archeological tools
  • Sorting excavated items
  • Analyzing artifacts
  • Ancient artifacts and their modern day equivalents
  • Terms and uses of particular artifacts
  • Information about daily life in the time period
Each student starts out with a team of "diggers" as shown below:


The diggers work away and when they find something, a green bubble appears. When you click on the bubble, a close-up of the area is shown, Then using their mouse, users uncover the artifact. Here's an example:


The student is then given the opportunity to learn more about the item (which will be useful when taking a quiz later on). After finding all the artifacts at a particular site, students sort them into categories: glass, metal, pottery, or mosaic pieces. Following this, students have fun analyzing items through a variety of activities.

One activity is to assemble a mosaic picture (an interactive puzzle activity). This was trickier than it sounds. Pieces were of unusual size and shape and you had to rotate pieces to fit into the mosaic. Some harder puzzle activities involved fitting pieces onto a 3-dimensional object that also could be rotated. Here's an example:


For another activity, the student tests their memory. You view a room with items and then objects are taken from the room and you must replace them to their original place. This provides a fun peek into what a room in a Roman house would have looked like:


Another game is a matching game. Match the artifact with its modern day counterpart. A very interesting way to show how some things haven't changed!


Users can also take a quiz or complete a crossword puzzle using the vocabulary they have learned from the dig site. There are a total of six dig sites, each featuring a different room in a Roman house. Users can also play some of the games without going through a dig site.

This game involves a lot of reading (no audio for the written information) so you'll want to either sit and narrate for a non-reader or reserve the game for comfortable readers. Some of the words are a bit challenging so you may still need to be nearby for younger players. Actually it would be nice to have the option of audio for the benefit of younger viewers. When my kids play computer games, there is usually a younger sib right there with them. Younger kids could learn a lot just from hearing the information. And having a correct pronunciation given verbally would be helpful for difficult words (especially the Latin ones).

For kids used to flashy arcade games with lots of action, it might take some adjustment. But that's one thing I really liked about the game. They have some background music but its just still pictures. There is some background music but it's pretty mellow (sort of cycles through the same music). The focus is on the educational experience but they do it in a way that's fun (without the frenzy).

If you visit the Dig It! website, you can try your hand at some online games (word search, term scramble, hangman or a jigsaw puzzle) or learn more through a number of archeological links. Take advantage of these great free resources!

What Does Roman Town Cost?
  • Roman Town (CD) $39.95 for individual family use
  • Roman Town Teachers Edition (CD) for classroom use $299
  • Roman Town Educator's Manual (download) $19.95

SPECIAL OFFER: From now until February 21, 2011, TOS Crew Readers can use a special code to get 20% off of last year's price for Roman Town. Enter coupon

code TOS2011 for 20% off of $24.95. Hurry--this offer ends Feb. 21st!

I was able to review a portion of the Teacher's manual and it really is a valuable resource providing game information, additional historical information as well as suggested activities for extending learning beyond the game itself. I wish the manual were included in the purchase price of the game as I fear the additional cost will keep many families from purchasing it, thus missing out on its benefits. The game on its own is still very enjoyable and we learned TONS.

What's the Verdict?
I would rate this game 5 out of 5 stars. This game was played in our house by a 13 year old (who played through the entire game in one afternoon), a 10 year old (she took a bit longer at 2 days) and a 7 year old.

My youngest child had a bit of a rocky start not being as adept with a mouse but with time, he caught on and thoroughly enjoyed the program. It took him over a week but as soon as he was done he asked if he could start it all over again. He also really enjoyed playing "Calculi" an ancient game where you must get 5 tiles in a row before your opponent does. (One frustration, however, was when the game was a tie, computer character declared himself the winner).

I can say without reserve that Roman Town provides a valuable educational experience that brings ancient history to life. We hope that if you buy the game, that you will "dig it" as much as we did! I definitely hope Dig It! will create additional products in the future--this is a company worth keeping an eye on!

Care to read what fellow reviewers thought of the product? Read their comments at the TOS Homeschool Crew Blog.

Contact Information
Phone: 1-877-21DIGIT (1-877-213-4448)

Disclaimer: We were given a free download of Roman Town from Dig It! Games for the purpose of reviewing and sharing our experience. No other compensation was received.


April D said...

hi Jill,
thanks for stopping by to visit today--good to have you!
this is the second review I've seen of this product--is it VERY interactive? the graphics look engaging. i am wondering if my Nancy Drew Mystery cd-rom loving kids would like this...

Jill Stanish said...

Unlike most computer games, the figures don't move. You'll see pictures of characters and there will be a dialogue balloon or instructions to user. Sort of like reading through comic book panels. The user interacts by using the mouse to uncover the artifacts, doing matching games, manipulating the puzzle pieces, etc. I think Roman Town is an interesting way to sort of "see" history as they give you an idea of what a room looks like and you "meet" kids from that time period. You learn some factual things about archeology, the time period, etc. If you try out the free games on their site, you might get a feel for the game's style.

The Adventurer said...

looks like a very interesting game. Will be looking into it. We live in England right now so we are getting to see Roman artifacts up close with all the history that surrounds us. Now following:)

Jill Stanish said...

Adventurer, I'm feeling very envious that you have history at your fingertips...What a great experience for your kids!

The Neighbors' Secret by Diana Sussman

  Maddie and her best friend Rachel are 8th graders. Maddie always sees mysteries to solve and Rachel sees boys to chase. In spite of their ...