MapMaster - Geography game

App review by
Lynne Glasner, Common Sense Media
MapMaster - Geography game App Poster Image
Speedy, addicting gameplay builds basic geography knowledge.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn the basics -- say, the capitals of all the countries in Africa -- and then move on to timed and untimed challenges that test their knowledge. Kids also can learn the names and locations of notable cities, landmarks, and landmasses around the world, and they can tap any of these spots to link to Wikipedia and learn more. Though the presented information is shallow, MapMaster - Geography game offers a variety of ways to explore geography and learn landmark locations.

Ease of Play

User-friendly and offers a clean and uncluttered interface. Menus and directions clear and accessible; functions and levels intuitive and easy to set.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that MapMaster - Geography game is a geography quiz and study app. When they want to learn more, kids can use the links to Wikipedia, though they may not get the most reliable or in-depth information there. Kids can play solo or log into their Google accounts to enter multiplayer games, which can be with people they know or strangers. Note that whatever is shared through their Google accounts will be shared with their opponents.

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What's it about?

From the main screen of MAPMASTER - GEOGRAPHY GAME, users encounter six buttons: Pinpoint Game, Time Attack, Study Mode, Multiplayer, Achievements, and Leaderboards. Three of those buttons lead to game options: Pinpoint Game (where users drop a pin on a  map site) and Time Attack (which is the Pinpoint game, but timed) are the two main games, and users can play against other people online via the Multiplayer menu. Each game lets users sort which geographic features or sites they'd like to be tested on: Choices include national capitals, U.S. cities, famous places (such as the Eiffel Tower or Angkor Wat), and landmarks (such as lakes, rivers, mountain ranges, and islands). Each game requires users to drop a pin on the required site. Users earn points for dropping the pin as close to the correct site as possible (and, in the Time Attack game, as fast as possible). In Study Mode, users can explore the same information on their own, tapping each possible location and then viewing the landmark's Wikipedia page through the in-app browser.

The Achievements and Leaderboard menus are only available to users who sign into their Google accounts to play; these display the user's overall results while playing solo and against others. Users can sign into Google to play against their friends and record their scores in a more public leaderboard. Users must sign in to join external leaderboards and play multiplayer games, but users can play solo in the app without signing in.

Is it any good?

MapMaster - Geography game is pretty straightforward: This is a geography trivia quiz game, pure and simple. Teachers looking for deeper cultural understanding should expect to extend students' knowledge on their own; beyond the Wikipedia article links, there's not much more information to offer context for why these cities, notable sites, or geographic features are notable. That being said, this is a great way to help kids build core geography knowledge. The main difference between the two central games is that one is timed and one is not, which is a nice feature that can help a range of readers and learners find the challenge that best matches their abilities. It's also nice that games get harder as kids progress through them: Pins have to be dropped closer and closer to their correct location to register as a correct response.

The way the categories are organized -- by continent, geographic feature, or landmarks -- can help kids concentrate on one thing at a time, making this a suitable companion to study for a particular unit in a geography or social studies class. Similar to the TV show Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego?, this is a fun, challenging, and amusing way for kids to boost their geography knowledge.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the cities and landmarks kids encounter in each round of gameplay. Use the Wikipedia links and find some fun facts about each location.

  • Distances are given in kilometers. Ask kids to estimate the equivalent in miles and discuss why the app might be set up to use kilometers.

  • The mapping technology used in the app works the same way as Google maps, making the app instantly familiar. The magnification is limited here and drills down only as closely as needed for the game.

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For kids who love geography and exploration

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