Shortcut! Computer Basics game is a fun way for children
to learn general computer how-to's while answering trivia-style
questions about computer hardware, navigation, general information,
software, and the Internet.
The game is very simple to play. You roll the die and move a space holder along the spaces on the board. Each square on the board represents one of the five categories mentioned above. The player draws a question from the appropriate stack, reads it aloud, and chooses an answer from four possibilities (unless it is a true/false question). The correct answer is given on the back of the card--with an explanation if necessary. If the player chooses the correct answer, he replaces the space holder with his own colored marker on the board.
There are different paths a player may take along the board, and landing on a Shortcut! square advances the player extra spaces. The first person to reach the end of the path is the winner.
The topic cards are color coded so that you know which pile to draw from each
time. Questions within each topic are very broad and cover important information
that anyone using computers should know. Sample subjects for each topic are listed
- General: computer terms, images, acronyms, and how-to's such
as rebooting, using menus, and using power sources correctly
- Hardware: understanding such things as CPU, RAM and USB ports,
learning the function of computer parts like the monitor and
hard drive, making computer connections
- Navigation: includes
information on files, folders, word processing, PDF, paths,
shortcuts, and finding lost files
- Software: learning how to install
and uninstall software, how to find and load software, using
applications and menus, and understanding toolbars
understanding how to make Internet connections, browse, type
Web addresses, use hyperlinks and search engines, recognizing
common online terms, and using email accounts efficiently
I didn't count the
question cards for each category, but I'll estimate
there are 200 cards in all. That's a lot of computer knowledge! My children
have experience with computers and the Internet already, which made
this game great for reinforcement. We all learned things we had never
known before! I'm
the type of homeschooler who believes that getting your hands on something
is far more effective than learning it secondhand, so my recommendation
comes with a bit of a catch. This game is a great tool for teaching
computer concepts. But it is much more effective if your children have
a basic knowledge of computers, or at least are acquiring that basic
knowledge, by actually using one. In other words, play the game and
have fun, but get on the computer to practice what you learn from the
game so that the knowledge will really stick.
There is no age recommendation listed on the game or in the directions.
Since playing requires reading some fairly big terms, I feel like
it's most appropriate for anyone nine or over, including adults. In fact, it's a great teaching tool for adults who don't have much experience with computers and would like to know more! Can you think of any grandparents you'd
like to encourage?
Another review . . .
Designed to improve knowledge of computer basics and terminology,
the Shortcut! Computer Basics board game includes five
sets of game cards from five categories, four standard game tokens
(ours were black, blue, red, and yellow), a wooden "coin" place
holder, a black die, and a game board. All components are tucked
neatly within a sturdy cardboard box, and the cards are rubber
banded by category and stored between foam cushions. The game cards
total more than 200: Software--48, Hardware--53, General--32, Internet--48,
and Navigation--52. The cards are color-coded and often include
color illustrations as part of the question. Questions are multiple
choice or true/false, with the answer provided on the back of the
card. There is a single page of instructions. Play is straightforward;
players move according to a roll of the die, draw a question card
according to the space they land on, place the placeholder piece
on the proposed space, and answer the question. If the question
is answered correctly, the player's token replaces the placeholder.
If the answer is incorrect, the player's token stays in position
and play moves to the next player. The first player to reach the "Finish" space
is asked a question chosen from any category by the next player;
with a correct answer, that player wins. If the answer is incorrect,
play continues. The player on the "Finish" square is able to
make another attempt on his next turn.
Red squares denote "Errors," such as Virus Attack, Application Error, System
Disk Error, Lightning Strike, etc. These spaces might involve the loss of a turn
or backward movement on the board. Additionally, "Shortcut!" squares provide
an advantage of moving forward and then answering a question appropriately. The
questions reflect a full range of difficulty. As an example, one card in the
Hardware set asks, "RAM stands for ___?" and there are four multiple-choice answers.
A more difficult question in the same category would be "The 'clock speed' of
your CPU is an indication of ____." Again, four multiple-choice answers are provided.
In the General category, an informative question was, "The term kilo means 1000;
however, in computer terminology you often see 1024 referred to as a 'Kilo'.
Why is this so?" The multiple-choice answers are:
A) The French invented the binary number system and are notoriously
bad at math.
B) Computers work in binary (a base 2 number system) and 2 to
the 10th power = 1024 which is darn close to 1000.
C) 1024 derives from Bill Gates' birthday, which is 10/24/1955.
D) Computer geeks like to make your life difficult.
One question in the Internet category included a warning for a
common spyware download many people have fallen prey to, which
is valuable information. Navigation cards include details such
as the difference between the "back" button and the "Up One Level" button,
as well as short cut combination keys that are used often. The
Software category had useful information regarding how to copy
or cut text in a Word document, with full explanations in the answer.
Some cards include a full paragraph explanation on the back with
the answer; others are just the answer. Some cards are amusing.
For example, when asking what a "driver" refers to in computer
terminology, answers include several options: a piece of software,
a software application, a small connector, or "the person who delivered
your computer." Other amusing answers included "throw the computer
out the window," "yell and scream," "pray for a miracle," and "curious
spider." These occasional amusing answer options really do keep
the game moving along and the players laughing.
This game was not designed for homeschoolers, but it does provide great review
of many commonly used computer terms, procedures, and displays. Our family
enjoyed the game and found quite a few nuggets of useful information. Unfortunately,
I did not appreciate some of the wordings used in the cards. Humor is great,
but not to the detriment of others, and our family is quite selective when
using terms for any particular category of people. The game does use the term "geek," although
not necessarily negatively. The reference to the French quoted earlier in this
review was most certainly prejudicial and wrong, and the use of "piece of crud" in
one of the game card answers was simply unnecessary when so many other options
are available. But my biggest problem with the game was a typo on the board.
The word "loose" is used rather than "lose" on all but one of the red "error" squares
when referencing losing a turn. This typo made me completely wary of all other
aspects of the game. I hope this mistake will be corrected on future editions
of the game. Another improvement I would suggest is the orientation of the
playing squares. The icons in each space could have been oriented in different
directions rather than all in the same direction. Table play would have been
friendlier for all sides with this one change. The question cards are also
printed on a cardstock that will likely not hold up well over years of use,
and with a suggested price of $34.95, the game would need to last for many
years of use.
Our family took our time with this review, as I wanted to play again and again
to determine whether I could get beyond that ridiculous typo. Any cards with
text of a questionable nature can be easily removed without detriment to the
game overall. The game itself is fun and will provide amusement while solidifying
computer knowledge. Younger students, perhaps 8 to 10 years of age, would benefit
from playing with older siblings or adults, who have a better understanding
of the words and explanations. Review is great; regular review is better; and
certainly amusing review that includes new bits of information is ideal. Overall,
the Shortcut! Computer Basics board game provides these things.