Review by Caryn Lix, Common Sense Education | Updated June 2014

Quest of the Wordsmith

Innovative work-in-progress spelling adventure needs larger word bank

Subjects & skills
  • English Language Arts

  • Creativity
  • Critical Thinking
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
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Pros: Does a great job of integrating learning and gameplay.

Cons: Only 1000 words are currently available, which can be frustrating.

Bottom Line: Inventive and original concept inspires creative thought through spelling.

Students could play this game collaboratively to work together on spelling and creative skill building. It also provides lots of opportunities for storytelling, for discussions about probability (for example, if I use the lantern now, what are the chances I'm going to need it even more later?), and for creating their own gameplay. Teachers should keep in mind that there's some potential for objectionable content in the game. For example, a quick way to get the letter A is to create a stork and have it drop babies that you can kill for the vowels.

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You open your eyes and find yourself alone on a deserted island. You're naked, with only your fists to defend yourself. If you want to survive, you'd better start hitting something to get the resources you need. Sound like Minecraft? It's actually Quest of the Wordsmith, and the concept is similar -- except instead of mining resources, you're mining letters. The first thing most players will do is attack the rat. When you defeat it, it dissolves into the letters that allow you to spell its name -- R, A, and T. As you defeat other creatures, you collect more letters. When you have enough letters to spell a word, you can make that object. For example, if you spell PANTS, you can clothe yourself. The game is open ended, so the goal is really just to travel around, explore, build things, and defeat monsters.

An interesting twist to Quest of the Wordsmith you don't see in similar games is that you can only use each word once. That means when night falls and you've already created a fire, a lantern, and a light, you're going to have to get creative about what to use for light this time. Could a star light your way? Would the sun transform the darkness into day? In this way, the game moves from simple spelling mechanics to something that increases vocabulary, makes students think about synonyms, and involves a lot of higher-order thinking. The only frustration is the game's limited lexicon: Students will probably be frustrated when they type in words only to find they don't exist. This is to be expected though as Quest of the Wordsmith is still in development.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

Quest of the Wordsmith is an addictive and highly interactive game that will easily reel in students and hold their interest initially, but a lack of words can frustrate.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Lots of creative thinking elevates this beyond a typical spelling game.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

Students are basically on their own for figuring out how to play and spell words, although walkthroughs are available online.

Common Sense Reviewer
Caryn Lix Classroom teacher

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