Where in the App Store is Carmen Sandiego?

Ben Bajarin / April 11th, 2012

One of the goals we have in my household is to develop and maintain an inquisitive culture and the desire to learn. Being immersed in the technology industry as I am, I naturally add technology as a part of that process. One of my favorite examples of how we have done this was with an app called iBird Explorer Western.

My family and I live just outside San Jose in an agricultural / rural part of the area and because of that we see quite a wide variety of birds we never encountered in the city. My oldest daughter (age 9) and I both have the app on our iDevices, mine on my iPhone and hers on the iPod Touch. It has been remarkable to see how quickly she can spot a new bird in the wild and quickly use the app to identify the bird and learn interesting facts.

Even more recently in this process she has begun playing a game called Stack the States fairly regularly. This game teaches her facts about US states as well as how to identify them and place them on a map. It does so in a way that makes learning fun and technology at its best should accomplish that goal when it comes to education.

Because of my desire to integrate technology into the learning process and inquisitive nature of my kids, I began thinking of games I appreciated as a kid that did the same. The first one that came to mind, for my wife and I, was Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

This game did a great job, in my opinion, of integrating game play with lessons on geography and other facts that was fun and educational. I had been watching for a while, and still to no avail, the arrival of this game in the iTunes App Store. This game seems like an ideal game for iOS devices and I am still surprised it is not there. The company that owns the rights called The Learning Company also owns the rights to The Oregon Trail, a game that is available for iOS and quite popular.

Game developers are smart to be using legacy franchises to bring games into the touch computing era. As devices like the iPad get integrated more into the learning process at different age levels, these games can provide a solid base to build upon and bring to tablets and more.

Apple’s re-invigoration of the software community is creating new possibilities with game software on computing devices and especially those that are touch based.

Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego is one of many legacy franchises that I hope make it to touch devices. Such software and the software development communities focus on creating games that are fun and educational are positive trends that I would like to see continue.

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio
  • BJ Wanlund

    I played far far too much “Where in the USA is Carmen Sandiego?” when I was younger. Here’s hoping they bring those types of edutainment games into the modern era for the kids of today to experience learning the way kids like myself did back in the late 80s and early 90s.

    And speaking of great edutainment games that need to come into the iPad era, what about the Super Solvers games, like Midnight Rescue!, Out Numbered!, Treasure Mountain!, Treasure MathStorn!, and “Challenge of the Ancient Empires!” (a fiendishly difficult game, Ancient Empires was; maybe the kids of today will get their brains around it faster than I did, I dunno)?

  • NM2000

    There are all new versions on the Nintendo Wii and Windows 8 download stores focusing on 3rd and 4th grade math skills, but with the same basic trael-the-world-and-catch-the-badguy feel.

  • Pegalina

    I LOVED Carmen Sandiego games. I used it with my daughter when I home-schooled her years ago. I would love to see it added to the app store to use on the iPad with my grandkids. My daughter now grown has visited Hong Kong, plans to go to Portugal, and is now in Ecuador, I wonder if Carmen had anything to do with that? Hmmm…

  • Mis

    Ben….me too. My kids love Stack the States and it immediately brought to mind my love of Carmen when I was their age.

  • Hmmm I just found an Android game pretty similar to the original Carmen: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.app.carmen&hl=en

  • Maleficent

    I recently contacted Broderbund and asked them if there were any intentions to update and re-release the Carmen Sandiego games. The answer was an unequivocal no. This makes me very sad. There are loads of games out, but precious few with any kind of educational basis.

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