Monday, July 8, 2013

Review: Dig -It Games - Mayan Mysteries

Dig-it Games Logo photo dig-it-games-logo_zps61887cb9.pngIn June we received a free year subscription of Dig-It Games' "Mayan Mysteries" for our use and review. This game follows the Roman Town game in a series of games that highlight archaeology and ancient cultures. The main premise of the game is the idea that archaeological finds open our eyes to cultures of the past. This game costs $21.99 for a year subscription, and class pricing is also available. It is geared for grades 5-9, and my 5th grade son had no trouble completely finishing the game in only a week. It is also available as an iPad app.

Dig-it Games On-line App photo dig-itgames-mayanmysteries_zps7a4409ab.jpeg

Once you have purchased this game, it is easy to log in on the main website. This will launch a Menu screen which shows your current score, level, achievements (15 possible), and artifacts found (47 possible). The story-line is presented in comic book format, and if you don't want to read it, many parts can be clicked to read aloud (if your computer has speakers).

The story tells how Police Chief, Mateo, in Guatemala, calls up his friend Alex Quinn to help him catch some looters who are destroying ancient sites and the artifacts there. Alex, along with his niece, Fiona, and nephew, Charlie, form "Team Q" and take on the challenge. They hope to catch the looters before they find a lost ancient city that the archaeologists hope to protect.

The very first thing you will do is visit the map, where you learn about 4 locations:
  • Tikal
  • Carakol
  • Copan
  • and Ceren
You learn about ancient boundaries and a little bit of history before the game really begins. There is a little quiz on the information presented, and then you are off to the first location, Ceren. When you arrive there you see each of the archaeologist characters and each has an (!) over their head. When you click the  (!) you are given a small historical or archaeological fact and then a challenge, which is usually a quiz, puzzle, or an archaeology game.  Once you complete all of the (!) then you unlock the book that Chief Mateo gave them. 

This is where it gets strange, the "magical"  Mayan book they have been given releases a "spirit guide" who takes them on a "vision quest" back in time to see how the artifacts they found would have been used, and they can get first person information from the ancient Mayans. My oldest son went on to complete the game, but I chose not to let any of my other kids play it after this discovery. I had a long talk with my son about contrasting the pagan teaching of the ancient Mayan (which I felt were harmless to study) and the "new age" teachings of "spirit guides" and "visions" and why playing with those concepts can be so harmful. As far as I uncovered in my research, "spirit guides" are not part of Mayan culture. I'd love to hear from others in the comments below if you've found other information on this. I think this game could have been AMAZING without this invented and added plot focus. The characters could have easily gone back in time with an imaginary time travel device. 

The characters go on to explore the three other locations uncovering artifacts and revealing lots of information about Mayan civilization, culture, and history. They were truly an amazing people. I liked that everywhere a new word or idea was presented, there was a hyperlink where my son could click to read more about it. There was SO much information presented! The games were each different an interesting. Be sure to see the YouTube trailer below to see the excellent graphics as well. 

You can also play a demo of the game here.

What I liked:

  • The massive amount of information provided in a fun and absorb-able way
  • The mini quizzes all throughout to make sure the information was absorbed before moving forward
  • The clickable vocabulary words
  • The information provided about the how and why of archaeology
  • The beautiful graphics and ease of use

What I didn't like:

  • Making "Spirit Guides" and "Vision Quests" an integral part of the game play and plot.
  • The game dangles a goal of finding a "lost city" all throughout the game, only to find it is "to be continued" in Mayan Mysteries 2 which is not yet released.

Bottom Line:

I would have loved this game and would have recommended it for any unit study on Central American history and the Mayan civilization. The graphics are top notch, as is the information provided. But, because of the imaginary plot covering topics I find very objectionable to my family and my faith, I cannot recommend this to anyone. I won't be letting my other children play it either. This is my own opinion, based on our family values, and may not be the way you feel about it. Please investigate the product on your own, and be sure to read all the reviews of this game (and also reviews of the iPad app) on the Crew Blog:


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*Prices and links are accurate at the time this is published, and are subject to change.


  1. Sounds like an interesting game. We have the Roman Town (name??) from Dig It and my kids really liked it. Pretty sure we'd not like the 'spirit guides' bit either. I know it was an integral part in the Mayan culture but still...

    1. I tried researching the idea of "spirit guides" in Mayan culture and could find nothing that wasn't more recent. (Like psychic websites using the Mayans as a catch phrase)

      Outside of certain Mayan gods taking animal form, I could find nothing about spirit guides. I'd appreciate if you have any sources I could see...

    2. And thank you SO much for reading my review and commenting! :)

  2. i understand your hesitation toward the use of spirit guides.

    It was I believe a part of the Mayan culture which is probably why it was included.

    Appreciated your review.

    annette @ A net in time

    1. Thank you Annette! If you read my reply to North Laurel above, I struggled to find ground for it in the Mayan culture. I'd appreciate if you had any suggestions where to look. I can't seem to find anything that is not recent new age teaching.

  3. I am not sure I could lead you to something that would give you the information you require about spirit guides in the Mayan culture. I only recall learning about it in an anthropology class in college. I did find a few websites (one is a blog that just touches on the spirit guide bit) but I don't wish to link them here because of their content. If you'd like me to send an email, I can do that.


I always wonder if my words are encouraging to you, so please leave a comment!


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