Games
Games for Kids
Computer, Electronic, and Video
Name of Game: Battleship

Origination date: 2012

Length of Play: 15-30 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Understanding, Applying

Costa: Level I

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Prediction

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 1 Star ★

Description: The object of this game is for your child to sink their opponent’s—or more specifically, the computer’s—ships before theirs are sunk. In this sense the premise of the game is exactly like the traditional Battleship played with a grid and plastic pegs. (Note: The traditional Battleship board game is better to play than the computerized version because your child can have fun with a real person.) There are a few additional refinements on the computerized version—such as the ability to fire multiple shots at the same time, and these changes do make the game slightly more interesting, but they are mostly cosmetic and visual changes which don’t alter the essence of the game. I found playing against the computer to be rather boring and your child will too. There are much better computer games on the market on which your child can waste their time playing.

Name of Game: Bejeweled 3

Origination date: 2010

Length of Play: 10 minutes to unlimited

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate to High

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Analyzing, Evaluating

Costa: Level II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Experimentation and Diagnosis

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 5 Stars ★★★★★

Description: Bejeweled 3 is the latest in a series of puzzle games from PopCap games. (I can easily recommend any of the Bejeweled variations for your middle school child.) At first glance, the game appears to be deceptively easy—your child will simply match up at least three jewels, either horizontally or vertically, and keep repeating the process until they have won the game. The problems begin to appear when your child starts playing further into the game. They are allowed to only move the jewels one space and only then when they create a pattern of three consecutive like-colored jewels. In order to win in Bejeweled, your child will have to be thinking at least one or two moves ahead of their current move—not unlike what successful chess and checkers players need to do. If they get really good at the game, there are additional games which follow the same basic rules except they will have to race against the clock to manipulate the jewels and win the game. The game has a learning curve, but is a great game for developing the spatial skills of your child while letting them have some fun.

Name of Game: Candy Crush

Origination date: 2012

Length of Play: 30 minutes to 50 hours

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Applying, Analyzing

Costa: Level I and II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Prediction, Evaluation, Causation

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 4 Stars ★★★★

Description: Candy Crush is really an imitation of the older gem-smashing game, Bejeweled, although with candies to sort and match instead of gems. The main goal of Candy Crush is to line up candies of like colors and earn points, thus causing the vertical and horizontal lines of candy to fall and drop, creating even more opportunities to mix and match the colors. Of course, special candies regularly appear, allowing middle school kids to make even more combinations and accumulate more points.

Speed is of essence in this game, though, and kids who think slowly and methodically will not be rewarded and will instead, become frustrated. This game is all about quickly recognizing patterns and maximizing points by finding certain patterns which give kids more points. Unfortunately, to progress deeply into this game requires money, which is the whole point of the developers. This is a very fun and colorful game which will eventually frustrate middle school kids because speed becomes predominantly more important as the game progresses. There are over 500 levels to this game so expect your middle schooler to be asking for real money so they can extend their compulsive game playing.

Name of Game: Chuzzle

Origination date: 2006

Length of Play: 10-30 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low to High

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Analyzing, Evaluating

Costa: Level II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Experimentation and Diagnosis

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 4 Stars ★★★★

Description: If you have played Bejeweled before, then you will be very much at home playing Chuzzle. The object of the basic game in Chuzzle is to move rows of furry and colorful creatures aptly named “Chuzzles,” so that three or more “Chuzzles are proximity-wise, adjacent to one another. The “Chuzzles” then giggle and explode, giving your child points toward the next level. Lining up the “Chuzzles” becomes progressively more difficult with each level, but helpful hints are available to help them with their quandaries. There are additional games, in the software, to play, which are more difficult and which function as a type of Rubik’s Cube version of “Chuzzles.” Some of these can be very difficult, especially if you are not familiar with visual and spatial puzzles. Chuzzles can be a very addicting game and can be played with either a modicum of thought or an extensive amount of thinking, so expect your middle school child to eat up lots of hours playing the game if they become smitten with the “Chuzzle” bug. Younger-aged middle school kids will be more attracted to this game than older middle school kids.

Name of Game: Cities: Skylines

Origination date: 2015

Length of Play: 2-12 hours

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s Taxonomy Level: Applying, Creating

Costa: Level I and II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Modeling, Experimentation, Planning

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 5 Stars ★★★★★

Description: Cities: Skylines is part of the city building empire games which all began with Sim City, a computer game many adults played in their younger days. Cities: Skylines is perfect for middle school kids who love building and creating worlds from scratch and who would rather not spend all their gaming hours trying to shoot and kill everything that moves. The goal in this game is for kids to take a relatively bare piece of land and progressively build a city, complete with roads, hospitals, libraries, sewer service, public transit, skyscrapers, houses, incinerators, and hi-rise apartment buildings. The fun in this game is that middle schoolers get to literally create any type of city they want—for example, a wealthy suburb or poor inner city metropolis. Of course, they will have to pay attention to the same things city planners do—the topography of the land, water sources, and what to do with all the garbage created by the growing population. Best of all, this game isn’t too difficult and can be completed in a reasonable amount of time, without having middle schoolers lose 40 hours of their lives to the game.

Name of Game: Civilization V

Origination date: 2010

Length of Play: 6-30 hours

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate to High

Bloom’s Taxonomy Level: Synthesis, Analysis, Evaluate

Costa: Level II and III

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Conceptual, Analytic

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 5 Stars ★★★★★

Description: If your middle school child hates long strategy games, don’t recommend Civilization V or the expansion edition, Gods and Kings to them. On the other hand, if they have a love for long and detailed strategy games which involves more than just blowing things up, then Civilization V will provide them with hours of intellectual fun. As your child builds an empire and shepherds it from thousands of years B.C. into the modern world, your child will experience nation building on a more complex level than that found in most video games. The game wasn’t designed with middle school kids in mind—in fact it was made for strategy-game-obsessed adults—but some middle school kids will love this game. Your job is to determine whether or not your child is one of them. This game is not for the average middle school child. The average middle school child will find the game too complicated, and too long to compete for their attention span. That said, for just the right child, the game will be a big hit.

Civilization V is one of the best empire-building computer games on the market—along with the endless variations of Sim City. The game itself has a high learning curve and may frustrate your child in the early going, but once they understand the rules and how the building of cities, the use of diplomacy, the creation of armies, and how to effectively use your resources, the game will start to make a lot of sense. There isn’t any gratuitous violence, sex, and filthy language that you will find in many other video and computer games you middle school child will be desperate to play.

Name of Game: Clash of Clans

Origination date: 2012

Length of Play: 1-80 hours

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Remembering, Understanding, Applying

Costa: Level I

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Prediction, Modeling, Diagnosis, Judgment

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 3 Stars ★★★

Description: This is a popular—and addicting—strategy game that kids (and adults) play on their cell phones. It’s a typical “battle-attack-collect-gold-coins-and-slaughter-the orcs” campaign which requires users to be at least thirteen years old, even though many middle school kids will ignore this rule.

The creators of Clash of Clans are becoming rich by requiring addicted kids to use real money to purchase gems which are needed to prevent the game from taking forever to play. For example, it is required in Clash of Clans to create certain structures to house gold coins and other things like troops ready for battle. Creatures called builders work on making and upgrading these structures. But they work agonizingly slow—it may take them six hours to upgrade a gold storage facility—and the results is that the only way to continually play this game is to buy additional gems with real money. Still, this is a decent strategy game. Middle school kids will either really like this game or think it is “stupid.”

Name of Game: Final Fantasy XII

Origination date: 2009

Length of Play: 10-40 hours

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Applying, Analyzing

Costa: Level II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Modeling, Experimentation and Judgment

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 4 Stars ★★★★

Description: The Final Fantasy series has been extremely popular with middle school kids for years and this version is no different. (Note: each version of Final Fantasy is essentially the same game set in slightly different settings with slightly different characters and enemies. This means that if you buy one game in this series, you are essentially purchasing the entire set. Of course, your middle school child will vehemently disagree and may feel compelled just have to own the latest version and why won’t you buy it for them?)

The gist of Final Fantasy XII is that a group of quirky and eccentric characters named Lightning, Serah, Snow, Oerba, Hope, Sazh, and Oerba, gather together to save the world of Coccoon from an ancient and evil group of creatures. The game is popular with middle school kids not because of the plot line or graphics—because they are hardly original—but because the characters are loveable, funny, quixotic, and mostly adorable. This fantasy game and series is better than many other fantasy-type games on the market. Older middle school kids may not find this series to their taste.

Name of Game: Great Big War Game

Origination date: 2012

Length of Play: 1-20 hours

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Applying, Analyzing

Costa: Level I and II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Experimentation, Planning, Causation

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 2 Stars ★★

Description: This is a popular and yet inexpensive strategy game which moves your child through a series of escalating adventures in a relatively simple geometric war game. As the game progresses, the wars being fought by your child become progressively more challenging and difficult. Along the way, your child gets to create soldiers of various stripes, construct tanks, erect buildings, and then unleash mayhem on the enemy.

At its core, the Great Big War Game is a very good army shooter adventure. What I didn’t like about the game, and why I don’t have it rated any higher than a two for middle school kids is that on a regular basis in the game, a male, cigar-smoking General will have conversations with a vacuous, buxomly, female soldier who acts as though she couldn’t type five words a minute or figure out which end of a gun should be propped up against the shoulder. Consequently, this is a game which heavily reinforces many of the gender stereotypes in a completely unnecessary over-the-top manner. This game will not do your child any favors in helping to shape their outlook on the roles of men and women in society. If you want your child to play war games and blow things up on a regular basis, at least find them a game which has both strong male and female characters. For now, my suggestion is to pass on this game.

Name of Game: Jewel Quest Mysteries: The Seventh Gate

Origination date: 2011

Length of Play: 30 minutes to infinity

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low to Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Analyzing, Evaluating

Costa: Level I and II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Experimentation and Diagnosis

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 4 Stars ★★★★

Description: The version I played for this review of the Jewel Quest Mysteries is The Seventh Gate. Note: There are different variations on this game. The game is actually a series of adventures which requires your child to find objects hidden in a picture, which is part of a larger story. You can also discover coins and jewels scattered throughout the larger picture.

This game is heavily dependent upon your child being able to “see” and discriminate visual objects within a larger visual field. For example, your child may have to find a hammer and a vase (along with other objects) hidden in a picture of an early Greek garden. This is a skill which is rarely taught in middle schools. Consequently, your child may find this game to be very easy or very difficult. Don’t be surprised if your high academically achieving child has difficulty with this game. It’s an entirely different set of skills. What separates Jewel Quest from many of its competitors is that there is a story line which weaves throughout the adventure. I sometimes found the story line to be irritating but at other times it did add to the eventual addiction of the game.

The game is easily learned in a few seconds but be forewarned—your middle school child, once hooked, could easily spend 10 hours playing this game over the course of several weeks or months. Mental speed is also required to solve the puzzles. If you have a child who is a very slow mental processor and isn’t very adept at discriminating amongst visual objects, they could find this game to be frustrating. Still, it’s a welcome addition, with a twist, to the gaming world.

Name of Game: Jewel Quest: The Sleepless Star

Origination date: 2010

Length of Play: 30 minutes to infinity

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low to Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Applying, Analyzing

Costa: Level I and II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Analytic

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 3 Stars ★★★

Description: If you have played Bejeweled and Chuzzle before, then you will be very much at home playing Jewel Quest. The version I played for this review is The Sleepless Star. (Note: There are different variations on this game.) The game is actually a series of adventures which requires your child to match up three similar objects. After they match the objects, they are rewarded with a “crash” of jewels and the knowledge they have solved one of perhaps 20-50 jewel matches which will be required for them to win each minor game which will eventually lead them to the grand finale.

Jewel Quest is essentially an advanced version of Tic-Tac-Toe. What separates Jewel Quest from many of its competitors is that there is a story line which weaves throughout the adventure. I sometimes found the story line to be irritating but at other times it did add to the flow of the game. The game is easily learned in a few seconds but be forewarned—your middle school child, once hooked, could spend 10-20 hours playing this game over the course of several months.

Mental speed, however, is required to solve the jewel puzzles. If you have a child who is a very slow mental processor, they won’t like this game very much because they will find it frustrating. Why? Because the timer will go off before they can solve the mystery of the puzzle and they will not get much positive reinforcement for their efforts.

Name of Game: Just Dance 2015

Origination date: 2015

Length of Play: 30 minutes to Infinity

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Applying

Costa: Level I

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Modeling, Experimentation, Influence, Teamwork

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 5 Stars ★★★★★

Description: Just Dance 2015 is the solution to getting middle school kids off the sofa and their hands out of the bag of potato chips. With obesity becoming an epidemic among middle school kids, helping them move their bodies and getting some exercise is becoming progressively more important. The “gist” of this game, which anyone can play—even grandpa and grandma—is that kids mimic the dance moves shown on the screen. The dance tunes available are modern and current with some oldies but goodies thrown in for good measure.

This can be a great party game or, if the roads are blocked by deep snow drifts because there is a raging snowstorm outside, the perfect way to stay in shape during a blizzard. Of course, middle schoolers won’t play the game to stay in shape—they will play the game because it is fun to move about and accumulate points as they work their way to becoming a dancing machine. This game is best danced to using an Xbox One Kinect.

Name of Game: Madden NFL15

Origination date: 2014

Length of Play: 3-60 hours

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low to Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Understanding, Applying, Analyzing, Evaluating

Costa: Level I and II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Prediction, Experimentation, Judgment

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 4 Stars ★★★★

Description: For a sports-related video game that has some level of intellectual challenge, Madden NFL15 is about as good as it gets. The game can be played without doing much thinking—just run, smash, tackle, throw, and kick—or it can be played with more thought, such as which play will be the best one to select from at any given field position and down or what defensive alignment should I switch to based on what I am seeing from the offense?

The level of cognitive resources needed to play Madden NFL15 won’t be huge, but it’s still an improvement from many other games which barely require anything other than stimulus and response type action.

There are lots of different ways to play this game—alone, online with friends, or as a coach, player, or owner—but the best part for middle school kids is the extensive step-by-step tutorial which will teach kids how to play the game and allow for them to not feel overwhelmed when the real game begins.

Name of Game: Minecraft

Origination date: 2011

Length of Play: 10-40 hours

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Evaluating, Creating

Costa: Level II and III

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Modeling, Experimentation, Planning, and Causation

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 5 Stars ★★★★★

Description: Minecraft is wildly popular with middle school kids. At first glance this will appear puzzling to adults because the graphics are terrible compared to the graphics found in many new top-flight video games. The graphics are so simple that anyone who has played video games in the early 1980’s will feel quite at home with Minecraft. But what sets this video game apart from others is that kids have an incredible level of control in creating their universe which is unparalleled in the video gaming world. The basic premise of Minecraft is that your child will venture into a world in which they get to create, design, and engineer buildings to their hearts content as they mine for valuable ores and fight off dangerous creatures. The odds are high they won’t survive the first night—but don’t worry—there is little gore or violence depicted in the game. I was blown up and killed by monsters several times my first night but it wasn’t much of a problem because my character re-spawned quickly and I could go back to work building my house. The game is fun and challenging to play because the structures available to build are endless and your child can construct a pyramid or cathedral or mosque or skyscraper if they so choose. When your child takes their Minecraft game online—and they will want to—they can do things like visit their friends’ houses, build a city, and explore the world together.

Name of Game: NBA2K16

Origination date: 2015

Length of Play: 2-30 hours

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Remembering, Applying

Costa: Level I

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Experimentation, Causation, Teamwork

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 4 Stars ★★★★

Description: This is one of the most popular electronic basketball games on the market. And it’s a fairly good game, as long as the adults and kids understand that it is mostly a game about learning patterns and sequences and figuring out how to make characters do things like shoot a three-pointer, make a nifty pass to the corner of the court, and drive to the basket. There aren’t many tutorials in this game and a middle school kid who has never played this game before may become frustrated at the initial complexity of learning how to use the buttons on the controller.

The game has lots of different ways to play, such as one-on-one, three-on-three, and five-on-five. Players can also pretend to be a high school ball player selecting their collect, and then eventually becoming drafted into the NBA. Of course, players can also engage as an owner and see how their team stacks up after a long season. The game is fun to play but mostly only for kids who love either playing basketball or fantasize about playing basketball.

Name of Game: Plants vs. Zombies

Origination date: 2009

Length of Play: 10 minutes to 15 hours

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Applying, Analyzing

Costa: Level II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Experimentation and Planning

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 5 Stars ★★★★★

Description: If you have ever played Plants vs. Zombies then you have discovered the meaning of the word, “addiction.” This game can be very compelling and many a middle schooler (and adult) has immersed themselves in battling zombies on their front lawn for hours at a time. The object of the game is to slay the zombies and prevent them from entering your house and eating your brains. Yes—I know the object of the game sounds stupid—especially if you aren’t into the zombie thing—but that’s how this game works. There aren’t really any gore or blood splatters or swearing so you don’t have to worry about that sort of thing. The designers of the game also have a goofy sense of humor which only adds to the lure of the action. The action gets progressively more difficult because gamers have lots of options for plants and, of course, the zombies have just as many options. The game speed can be fast and require lots of concentration. This is not the type of game for divided attention. Your middle school child will not be happy with you if you choose to interrupt them when the zombies are attacking in wave after wave, so time your disruption when the immediate battle is over. The zombie incursions, as they gather momentum, are fast and furious so a little patience on your part may prevent an argument later on. You may have to set a limit on how much they play this game—that’s how addicting it can become.

Name of Game: Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare

Origination date: 2014

Length of Play: 2-20 hours

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Remembering, Applying

Costa: Level I

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Experimentation, Diagnosis, Teamwork

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 5 Stars ★★★★★

Description: If your middle school kid insists on owning a shooter game, this is one of the better ones you can put in their hands. The characters are hilarious—plants that wear outfits and zombies who occasionally wear buckets on their head—and the settings are unique and sophisticated cartoon-like—strange cities, bizarre graveyards, and collapsing buildings—but this all works together as a package deal. If you, as an adult, are categorically opposed to shooter games, whether as a parent or a teacher, nothing in this game will make you happy. Move on to a different type of game, like Candy Crush or any number of sporting games.

There are numerous ways a middle school kid can play Plants vs. Zombies: Garden Warfare. They can play individual scenarios against the computer or join a cooperative battle against the zombies, or they can join a group of friends and fight against another group of kids located somewhere around the globe. Younger middle school kids will like this game better than older kids.

Name of Game: Risk

Origination date: 2012

Length of Play: 30 minutes

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Applying, Analyzing

Costa: Level II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Diagnosis and Planning

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 3 Stars ★★★

Description: The computerized version of Risk is exactly like the board game except that it is much faster and can be played in about half an hour, whereas a game involving real players can last for several hours. The graphics and animation are very simple in this version of Risk but kids and adults who are addicted to the game aren’t looking for a glitzy battery of visuals. (They want to know if their strategy of holding South America or invading Asia is successful.) The biggest advantage of playing the computerized version of Risk is that kids can quickly test out their theories of world domination and get pulverized in the process, thereby learning, for example, that trying to hold onto Europe is mostly a futile assignment. Most middle school kids will need to be introduced to Risk by an adult. It’s not the type of game they will seek out on their own, nor is it a “must-have” game.

Name of Game: Terria

Origination date: 2014

Length of Play: 4 hours to Infinity

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low to Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Applying, Analyzing, Creating

Costa: Level II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Modeling, Experimentation, Planning, Causation, Teamwork

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 4 Stars ★★★★

Description: Terria is similar to the popular Minecraft, except that gameplay resides in two dimensional space, rather than the three dimensional space found in Minecraft. With either game, however, kids are not going to be making a bad purchase or rental. The main purpose for middle school kids in Terria is to gather resources—ore, wood, stone—and construct buildings and furniture for their structures. Of course, a variety of tools are available, as are weapons, so kids can fend off a host of creatures which randomly attack and try to disrupt the building process or kill their main character.

Online and solo adventures are available and the types of buildings or underground mines built can be extraordinary, limited only by the imagination of the middle school builder. This is a solid world-building game for younger middle school kids.

Name of Game: The Crew

Origination date: 2014

Length of Play: 3-40 hours

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Understanding, Applying

Costa: Level I

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Experimentation

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 3 Stars ★★★

Description: This is a pure car racing game which is better suited to older middle school kids. (Swearing and violence are part of the driving experience—almost anything can be run over, including small trees, light poles, and people—so parents and teachers may want to take this into account.) The game is unique because many of the racing scenes do not occur around a racetrack—they take place all over the United States on open roads and streets. In this sense, middle school kids can drive anywhere and complete missions as their whims take them. Most of the pleasure kids will get from this game will be from driving way too fast over roads, through farmer fields, and around hairpin turns and curves. Almost everything can be run into, which is exactly what most middle schoolers will do with their car. Fortunately, there are ways for them to get their cars fixed and add refinements and other performance gadgets.

Name of Game: Tony Hawk Pro Skater5

Origination date: 201

Length of Play: 2-20 hours

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Low

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Application

Costa: Level I

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Experimentation

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 2 Stars ★★

Description: Any kid who skates on a regular basis probably knows who is Tony Hawk, the creme dela creme of the skateboard world. Think of him as the Michael Jordan of the skating world and you won’t be too far off. Much of this game, which can be played online or as a standalone game, involves progressing through different levels or scenes as middle school kids learn how to do tricks such as grinding, flips, jumps, ollies, and slides. Consequently, the vast bulk of this game involves becoming familiar with the controller buttons and learning how to hit the correct sequence as your character approaches benches, sidewalks, curved walls, concrete blocks, railings, and any number of other objects which can be manipulated and used. There are also points or objects which need to be collected at various points. This game has not received accolades in the gaming world and only die-hard middle school wanna-be skaters will want to play this game. If you insist upon giving your middle schooler a skating game, versions 2, 3, and 4 are better.

Name of Game: Warcraft III

Origination date: 2002

Length of Play: 30 minutes to 30 hours

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Analyzing, Evaluating

Costa: Level II

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Modeling and Experimentation

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 4 Stars ★★★★

Description: Warcraft III is the type of game which transcends the normal boundaries which exist in the gaming world between kids and adults. This game is actually showing its age, but there are additional scenarios you can buy which have extended its shelf life. (This game is still available on the shelves of many gaming and big box retail stores.) There is an online version of Warcraft, which is more popular than the old fashioned set of CD’s, which is what you get in the box when you purchase Warcraft III.

The game is really an empire building game, in which your child will control various denizens who live in a fantasy world filled with loyal friends and dastardly enemies. Over time, they are sent on various missions and build up settlements to repel the enemy or send their armies to smash their adversaries. On each excursion, they are in control of one of several heroes who, of course, have various powers which are fun to unleash on their foes. The game has a rating of “T” so you probably don’t want your younger middle school child playing this game. As many kids and adults have discovered, Warcraft III can be an addicting game so make sure you monitor the time your child spends slashing and saving the races from the Rein of Chaos.

Name of Game: Zoo Tycoon

Origination date: 2003

Length of Play: 6-40 hours

Level of Intellectual Difficulty: Moderate to High

Bloom’s New Taxonomy Level: Evaluating, Creating

Costa: Level II and III

Schank’s Cognitive Process: Modeling, Experimentation, Planning

Dr. Kid Brain Rating (1-5): 5 Stars ★★★★★

Description: Don’t be fooled by the fact that this game first came out in 2003. Zoo Tycoon and it’s sequels, Dinosaur Eggs and Marine Mania are excellent and inexpensive computer games for your middle school child. The object of the game is to create your own zoo from scratch and keep it running while ensuring the visitors, animals, and accountants are all happy. Your child will need to think of everything while operating their zoo—including bathrooms and food stands for customers, the right foliage and ground for the animals, the economics of paying the zookeepers, and determining what you can charge for concessions and entry into the zoo. Of course, if your child isn’t paying attention, the animals may escape their cages, die from lack of veterinary care, or become unhappy because your child has done something like mixed the lions and gazelles together. What makes this game especially good for your child is that they get to learn all about the trees, grasses, and the ground cover necessary for a variety of animals. They also get to learn how animals interact with one another and that things like sturdy fences to keep the animals safely away from the visitors are not free and cost money.

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