Jamestown Adventure

I was excited to review the game Jamestown Adventure because my interest is in colonial America. Unfortunately, the game is very simplistic and I was able to complete the entire game several times during several different scenarios in a short amount of time. After completing your adventure you are given the option of printing out both the results of your game and the actual history for comparison.

When I followed the known history of Jamestown and recreated those events in the game the colonists were hungry because their crops did not do well in the marshy soil, suffered a malaria epidemic, were poisoned by brackish water, sanitation was poor, found Pyrite instead of gold and were disappointed about not finding gold – all in less than five minutes. By following the actual history my ratings were: Food – fair (trading with Powhatan Indians provided several bushels of corn); Health – poor; Wealth – good (trading with Indians provided a refined form of tobacco) however the moral rating was good and I was promoted to Governor of Virginia!

The game does have redeeming quality of the game is that you can play the game multiple times using different scenarios making better decisions each time. While I find the game simplistic and somewhat boring, it is actually an excellent learning tool for elementary age students and a unique way to teach history to that age group.

6 Replies to “Jamestown Adventure”

  1. Although it has some flaws, I think Jamestown Adventure is excellent for elementary school children. While the game lasts just a few minutes, it has replay value (I played it twice so I could choose different options). I also like how players can read the actual charter; this is a good example of integrating a primary source into a video game (although a teacher or parent may have to help the kids understand the language). Finally, at the end of the game, users learn about the various dangers that the colonists faced and discover what really happened.

    For a game targeted towards younger children, Jamestown Adventure succeeds. Yet I think it would be more enjoyable if the game were longer (a la Oregon Trail. It is entertaining enough that kids would stay interested if it lasted 15-30 minutes.

  2. I agree with both Kelsey and Jason. But to go further, I think the interface is too limited…first, that the window size for the actual game won't expand and then, to agree with Kelsey, that the reading comprehension required doesn't match the target age of the exercise. The best part of this game, in my opinion, is the incorporation of primary and pseudo primary sources. This class has really led me to believe that students will be using primary sources a lot more in primary school. So for kids to have to read the actual text of the charter is extremely useful.
    I guess I'm not surprised, since the game was created in 2002 on probably a tight budget. If I were an elementary school teacher, I would probably use this game as a template to simulate my own choice and consequence game that was a little less rigid and more engaging. If there were more options for characters to consult… maybe a google map or two, I think the game would be much for entertaining. But I doubt the original creator of it would deny how rudimentary this tool is looking at it from 2011.

  3. I agree with the previous comments, the game is too limited. It's not nearly as engaging as it could be if it had more interface. Oregon Trail is a fairly simple game but it's very easy to get wrapped up in. In elementary school we spent a week and a half working with Oregon Trail and no one ever got bored. I do not believe you would have the same results with Jamestown Adventure.

    The USS Constitution Museum in Boston has released a game called A Sailor's Life for Me (asailorslifeforme.org). It took them ten years to gather all the information about the individual sailors but the interface is vast. It's a game, it's educational, and it works for multiple ages. At the same time, it's fairly simple to use.

    I expected more from Jamestown Adventure simply because it was made in 2002.

  4. Jamestown takes basic concepts of English exploration and makes it a learning experience for 10-15 year olds. As we saw in the recent demonstration, you can create errors resulting in the death of the entire colony. To consult with native people, the Jamestown charter, and the colonists themselves is unique. Students can take what they have learned and put that knowledge to the test. A great idea.

  5. I thought that this game was a bit boring. I think that it could have been done much better. It didn't seem hard enough. I agree with feasley in that Jamestown doesn't create the same need or desire to win like Oregon Trail did. I also don't think it was as fun as Oregon Trail was. I think making the game longer and a bit more complicated could make it more interesting. Being able to ask question and consult the charter makes it much to easy to win and boring because of that. I wonder what the game would be like if you could only choose one form of help or if you were left to decide for yourself. Then at the end of the game you should be able to compare what you did in the game to what the actually happened in Jamestown.

  6. I agree that the Jamestown Adventure game would be best implemented in a group-type setting under the guidance of a teaching professional. Multiple people have commented on the reading level of the text included at the end of the game, and it seems to me that if a teacher were to talk about the text, and what it means in terms of the actual Jamestown colony, elementary level students would be able to understand. The game, then, could be a good way for students to understand the decisions made by the colonists in a way that is "fun" (although, as said above, not as fun as Oregon Trail) and less rigid than the typical classroom setting.

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