As a kid, my favorite educational experiences involved some sort of tactile learning—digging for fossils with my fellow Boy Scouts, trudging through muddy lo’i patches to harvest taro (an edible Hawaiian root), and slicing open frogs and fetal pigs in Biology class. I’m the classic have-to-touch-everything personality, a practical nightmare for museum staffs everywhere.
Considering this, I wasn’t much of a gamer, except maybe a brief fascination with the Legend of Zelda. Imagine my surprise when I came across a new online game, The Time Tribe, from Thundersnow Media, at the recent Digital Kids Conference here in New York City. The Time Tribe can be a classic gaming experience (it’s also free), but with a subscription the adventure game can become a tactile experience with monthly mailings, including letters written by characters in the game, mysterious wax-sealed envelopes, a wearable “timekey” from each time travel adventure, and pages from journals.
Created by archaeologist Karen Wehner, The Time Tribe follows four kids—Lewis, Kate, Iris, and Will—who have learned that they’re part of a secret society of time travelers dubbed the Time Tribe. Following an episodic game pattern, players go on quests where they encounter quirky characters, interesting places, artifacts, mysteries to solve, and mini games within the game. The play experience is enhanced by an e-comic and mini fictional narratives that pull kids deeper into the characters’ lives and stories. And for subscribers, the game is further enhanced by the letters and artifacts they receive in the mail, which unlock gameplay secrets and reveal additional story points.
Wehner has intentionally kept the game true to history and archeological findings, making it a great way for kids to learn about different cultures and time periods. My only wish is that I had more time to spend getting to know our time traveling heroes, including Will, who also seems to be quite the tactile learner (He breaks a priceless artifact in the story’s prologue after being warned, Do not touch!).
Check out the game at www.thetimetribe.com, and be sure to come back and let me know what you think.
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