Secret Codes

Everett really enjoys playing with the iPad. No surprise there – he has been using it for a couple years and it supplies an almost endless variety of games and books. He likes it so much that we have had to set ground rules about it such as: no iPad before school in the morning; limited screen time each day including iPad and television.

One iPad app that Chris recently downloaded and became obsessed with for a couple days was Mystery Lighthouse. It’s a nouveau-retro adventure game that lacks interactive graphics or fancy transitions between pages. In fact, there is hardly anything that moves in the game. Rather, it’s a mystery adventure that you have to solve using clues and objects you find along the way. For those of you who are old enough to recall Infocom, these are essentially the same types of games but with a series of still shots for each scene. Anyway, around the time Chris solved the game he noted that Everett might enjoy it someday. What he didn’t anticipate was that someday is now. Chris downloaded Spooky Manor by the same authors, and Everett became equally obsessed with it. To him the game was filled with secret codes that he found great delight in solving (these codes are somewhat similar to the type that existed in the adventure game Myst). For example (spoiler alert), you have to find the hammer to smash the vase to get the key to open the door to Lord Theodore’s studio. Then you have to paint a statue to free his ghost to get to the video game, which you have to successfully play to get a token to play the gramophone to listen to the sequence of sounds that have to be reproduced on the piano in the music room to open a secret door. You get the idea. After Spooky Manor I showed him Mystery Lighthouse and then we downloaded Mystery Lighthouse 2. Sadly, we have now solved all of these adventures, and they appear to be all of the games from this developer that are appropriate for a child. Other suggestions are welcome.

Everett has been on the lookout for secret codes ever since we started playing these games. And at times when we can’t find any, his imagination is more than capable of identifying places where they might be in our everyday life.

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