In the kids section of the Colonial Williamsburg website, there are a variety of games centered around colonial history. Mr. Jefferson’s Mystery Maze is a quiz game that takes players through the garden at the governor’s palace in Williamsburg. While the maze is easy to navigate for players of all ages, there are many flaws that detract from its historical value.
The game works by the player collecting clues scattered in the garden and answering questions posed by animal gatekeepers. I do not mind that it was animals asking the questions but there was no explanation of why they were there. The questions are rarely relevant to animals so their presence is a disconnect. A child would probably not take as much notice or question the role of the animals but I would have liked to know their connection to the game.
Another flaw was the lack of points awarded for correct questions or explanation of the answers. Players do not know where they stand in the game as they advance to higher levels because there is nothing to measure a players success. The only measurement of success or failure is deducting from the three tries to get answers correct. Once the three tries are gone the game is over. As for the answers, no further explanation was offered to contextualize the subject. For questions like “who polishes and files pieces removed from a mold?” the answer is “a founder” but no historical background is given. Without a sentence or two of explanation or elaboration the game fails to teach history in an effective manner.
The biggest flaw of the game is that there is no explanation of what the end goal is. I played for more than twenty minutes and I was given no indication that I was close to finishing the game. There was no logic to the levels either. As I advanced through them, the garden did not appear to change and the questions were not harder.
Overall, I do not feel this game is valuable for teaching a historical narrative. The questions are random and do not offer any historical context for the answers. Aside from learning definitions of jobs and people, the game does not succeed in making connections to history. The lack of a clear purpose to the game makes it frustrating to play.