The educational aim behind this tutorial-type game is to show that health, diet and exercise are interrelated. The arcade format has the player trying to help the Dodger family to build up immunity to avoid the onslaught of attacking germs, by eating wisely and my taking the correct amount of exercise. The program attempts to show that different countries of the world have to cope with different problems of health and diet, and tries to show that staying alive in the Third World presents greater problems in avoiding the dangers of life than we face in Europe.
The game begins with the Dodger father - who is the easiest to keep alive - and then becomes progressively more difficult with the other members of the family - Mum, Granny, teenager and toddler, each of whom has different dietary requirements.
The final target is to keep all of the Dodgers alive in all of the countries. The game cashes in on children's attraction to the arcade format, attempting to use it as a vehicle for sound educational aims. Unfortunately, however, the arcade element is so successful that much of the message is lost: for example the germs attacking the Dodgers are not seen by the pupils who played the game with me as representing 'broad categories of ill ness . . . ranging from the common cold, flu, cough, sickness, to more serious ones such as malaria' as is the intention, but simply as enemies which 'zap' the Dodgers. Some of the foods are very difficult to identify from the graphics, and it becomes increasingly unlikely that the player will 'see how a balanced diet (including a range of vitamins, protein, carbohydrates, fat, mineral salts) influences health.
The copy we tested seemed to be faulty. No matter how we tried we couldn't make the exercise option work.
Disease Dodgers is the sort of educational game which, in spite of having a laudable aim, does not wholly succeed. The packaging is probably not attractive enough for the game to be bought by teenagers; and it seems that the game would be of limited use in the classroom because of difficulties encountered in identifying the food, and the fact that the diseases are not specified. The pupils who tested this program for me quite enjoyed the arcade format, but at the end of it all, they had learned very little. The only way this game might be of value would be I with a fair amount of adult intervention, so that the player would be encouraged to talk about the relationship between weight and health, and then perhaps research the diseases prevalent in the countries mentioned.
: much easier to play with a joystickKeyboard play
: goodUse of colour
: the types of food are not easily identifiableGeneral Rating:
Some of the more vile diseases try to dodge the player's scrutiny.