What in the world can make learning fun? Would you believe—the National Geographic Society? When the staid Washington, D.C., institution wanted to turn the database of questions from its National Geography Bee into a computer game that would appeal to parents and kids alike, it turned to Austin’s Human Code, which has created two award-winning CD-ROMs for the Discovery Channel and one based on Schoolhouse Rock. The collaboration produced GeoBee Challenge (Mindscape, $30), a quirky game meant to educate and engage. Geared to players ages eight and above, GeoBee Challenge contains more than two thousand puzzles (such as “Been There, Done That,” where you match scenic snapshots to tourist destinations) and multiple-choice questions (Reggae developed in the city of Kingston on which Caribbean island? Jamaica). Among the nice touches are the goofy identities players can assume, such as Turbo Squirrel or Buck-Toothed Mona Lisa, the jazzy background music, and the design, whose primary colors and polka dots give the thing a fifties martini-madness feel. Kids will want to play it again and again, setting them on a path toward global domination.
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