Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew is the female ur-geek. Now your kid can take a break from the shootemup gorefests of modern computer games with the Nancy Drew mystery game series from Her Interactive. The games are a great way to introduce your kid to lots of different areas of specialized knowledge.
I have been playing a few of these games with my eight-year-old daughter and they have been a great way to discover what she is into—and vice versa. She has grown an affinity for the feisty girl detective (I am so proud) and loves the math puzzles (I am so prouder). As with similar games, the goal is to solve one main mystery by gathering tools and clues and working through interactive puzzles. In the process, you meet the usual cadre of characters, all of whom offer help and clues through questions and answers. The games need a fair bit of attention to detail and are great for teaching the importance of research and strategic thinking.
The content is oriented toward older kids—the puzzles require a grasp of certain types of knowledge and the overall strategy can get a bit tricky. The Curse of Blackmoor Manor has many references to alchemy and mythology, while The Haunted Carousel requires you to fix and build basic circuits. Playing together, it is a fun way to teach astronomy, electronics, pattern recognition and code-breaking, and plain ol’ problem solving. The best part is that she gets to ask questions, and I get to answer them. And if I don’t know, we research it together. One game session launched us into an afternoon jaunt on the internet looking at pictures from NASA and the Hubble space telescope. Fun for Geekdad and Geekkid alike!