What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Snapshot Adventures: Secret of Bird Island is a game that is violence-free. It teaches kids about birds and their environments by having them solve a mystery that requires them to photograph birds using the computer mouse as the camera's shutter. The mystery involves a missing grandfather, which could be upsetting to kids who are close to their own grandparents. This is a game all family members will enjoy, regardless of whether they are bird lovers or not.
What kids can learn
Language & Reading
- following directions
Thinking & Reasoning
- applying information
- producing new content
- making new creations
- achieving goals
Engagement, Approach, Support
Snapshot Adventures caters to a specific niche (bird watchers, photographers, and casual gamers) but appeals to that niche perfectly. Graphics are a little dated, but the audio - a blend of realistic bird calls - is wonderful.
Players can easily transfer the skills they've learned about bird watching and photography to the real world. Kid can also design and share their own bird species.
Kids receive photography tips, detailed feedback about their photographs, and extra praise for particularly good shots, but there are no extension materials.
What's it about?
Computer games have the unique ability to take us places we could otherwise not go. They can combine disparate elements into an intriguing gaming experience. With SNAPSHOT ADVENTURES: SECRET OF BIRD ISLAND, kids will photograph over 100 species of wild birds while traveling the country and solving a mystery. The setup is that your grandfather, a famous naturalist and bird photographer, has mysteriously disappeared, leaving you his camera, his half-empty field journal, and a map of his most recent travels. As you retrace his steps and meet many of the people he worked with, you will travel to the 50 locations around America. At each location, you are asked to take pictures of birds in exchange for information about your grandfather.
Your cursor becomes your camera viewer as you scroll through the on-screen environments looking for birds. You take a photo by clicking your left mouse-button. Each of your grandfather's cohorts teaches you something new about photographing birds. For example, Colonel Perkins explains how the game uses a point system to grade photos, based on the size of the bird in the frame, centering, orientation, if there are extra birds in the photo, and whether the bird is doing something like singing, preening, flying, or eating. The point system translates to a 5-star evaluation system that is applied to each photo at the end of your photo shoots. If you do well taking photos for others, they reward you with helpful equipment like a zoom lens.
Is it any good?
This game is fun as well as being educational. It was developed in conjunction with the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, the repository of the world's largest bird sound collection. The game features over 100 realistic-looking and -sounding birds found in 50 different locations, including forests, urban environments, deserts, swamps, oceans, and lakes. The characters you meet are entertaining, informative, and weave a good story. They discuss environmental issues that affect birds. The story requires you to think logically when planning a photo shoot.
Another great feature of this game is the user-generated content. After you finish an assignment and review the photos that you have taken, you can choose to send those photos to a friend via email. You can also create your own custom bird to release into the "wilds" of the Internet, and download fantasy birds created by other people to appear within your game.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about whether, after playing this game, they noticed more birds in their environment. Did this game turn you into a bird lover? What was your favorite bird to photograph?
Consider finding a bird guide that shows birds local to your area, then plan some activities, hikes, or drives that would allow kids to see local birds up close. If they enjoy this, make sure each child has their own Bird Life List to record their findings.