Software Review: Going online for educational fun

While the games are not very sophisticated and action packed, they are pleasant and will make younger children happy.

compedia 88 224 (photo credit: Courtesy)
compedia 88 224
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Purchase an educational computer game for your kid, and he or she is likely to play it for a few hours, days or (sometimes) weeks. Buy a subscription to a Web site that gives access to an archive of hundreds of educational games and adds new ones each month, and the kid will enjoy the game and the freedom of choice; the software company saves on disk production and marketing and has only to buy a powerful server for distribution. That is the marketing strategy of a small but growing number of software firms, and this is what Israel's own Compedia - which has already produced more than 100 titles that have been translated into 35 languages and are sold in 40 countries - has done here. But it has also taken a refreshing stand with this CD-ROM: All profits go to help at-risk Israeli children and teenagers through the Jewish Agency's Haruah Hayisraeli organization. McDonald's has joined by offering the CD-ROM for NIS 5 to those who purchase a children's meal, giving them a week to play the online games. Compedia isn't ashamed to emphasize that its products are educational, and the disk - without an Internet connection - offers richly colorful games, mostly using children's aptitude for moving objects around. Go online by clicking an icon, and they may choose their suitable age group and symbol. An icon installed on the desktop enables parents to monitor their child's progress in a variety of skills needed to play well. With a genie as a guide, the child can click the mouse, play tunes on a xylophone and learn the musical notes, meet animals, manipulate robots, use their arithmetical skills to fill in line drawings with color (if you know how much 5x5 equals, for example, you can click the appropriately marked paints to fill the spaces). Gold coins are given to exchange for bonuses when the child finishes each activity, and a section of a championship cup is filled in as they progress. While the games are not very sophisticated and action packed, they are pleasant and will make younger children happy. The Peleland disk received an "Oscar" in the competition just held by the Israel game Developers' Association. Peleland: Mishekei Hashiva (Thinking Games), a CD-ROM in Hebrew gives one week's access to Peleland Web site games, NIS 20 a month for subsequent subscription, from Compedia, requires Windows XP and up and an 800 mhz Pentium PC or better, for ages four to nine. Rating: ****