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App review by Caryn Lix, Common Sense Education | Updated July 2014
Word Raider: Quest

Word Raider: Quest

Good variety of vocab study but lacks inventive game design

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6–8 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.
Subjects & Skills
English Language Arts

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Pros: Includes clever vocabulary animations and more writing than many games of this type.

Cons: The gameplay feels reductive and might lose kids' interest.

Bottom Line: A decent supplement for improving vocabulary that can fill in some gaps or provide some variation, but it doesn't do a great job of using games to the best of their abilities.

This would be a great supplement for ELL students or those struggling with basic vocabulary concepts. If you have students who are behind on basic grammatical skills, spending some time with Word Raider: Quest will provide some variety and encourage brushing up. The game doesn't really lend itself to whole-class activities, however -- it would be better as something to do at home or one-on-one. 

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Editor's Note: As of July 1, 2015, Word Raider: Quest is no longer available. 

Students act as archaeologists in this Indiana Jones-style platforming game focused on building important vocabulary through speaking, reading, and writing. Basic puzzles require players to use vocabulary words, all of which are introduced through clever animations before the game starts. For example, the animation for the word assure shows the entire word coming to a ravine. The a goes across to check for safety before beckoning the rest of the letters to join it. It's a nice device for implanting the words and their meanings in kids' minds. Gameplay, however, is slow and clunky, requiring kids to match words to their definitions (or the like) in order to open the door and escape the tunnel. It feels a little old-school. They can also "level up" words by completing writing and speaking tasks, which go to the teacher for assessment.

It's nice to see the writing represented here, as that's difficult to incorporate into games. The combination of animations and verbal/visual learning will help kids absorb vocabulary more readily. Beyond that, though, there isn't really much to the game mechanics. In addition, the best parts of the game from a teacher's perspective -- the writing, speaking, and responding -- are easy to skip over if the student doesn't care about leveling up (and they probably won't). Given the cost of the game, it's tough to justify the investment.

Overall Rating

Engagement Would it motivate students and hold their interest? Is it visually appealing? Would it inspire teachers to try something new or change their instruction?

Clunky platforming and a lack of inventiveness in gameplay means this isn't likely to keep kids engaged.

Pedagogy Does the tool help teachers promote a more student-centered experience? Will students gain conceptual understanding or think critically? Does it deepen teachers’ pedagogical thinking?

Academically relevant words get covered within reading, speaking, and writing contexts, but it's easy for kids to skip some of those key components.

Support Can students and teachers get assistance when they need it? Is it created with people of different abilities and backgrounds in mind? Is learning reinforced and extended beyond the digital experience?

Tutorials are clear, and the game provides straightforward goals. A robust teacher dashboard helps with student tracking and assessment.

Common Sense reviewer
Caryn Lix Classroom teacher

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