If you’re tired of your child being infinitely more tech-savvy than you are, The Pack, created by the New York Hall of Science, is not the app for you.
The Pack, you see, is an open world game—i.e., a virtual world that allows the player to roam, explore, and interact freely instead of following a linear time line—which encourages children to save the fictional world of Algos by building algorithms and interacting with futuristic creatures.
It may sound like Greek to you, but chances are your kids will catch on immediately.
Tap to choose your difficulty (easy, medium, hard) and you’re immediately dropped into Algos, a sparsely populated, barren world that stretches dimly into the horizon. Algos is struggling with failing ecosystems and food and water scarcity. It’s up to you, the player—and the friends you meet along the way—to solve these problems. The main character is controlled simply by the touch of a finger and holds still when you lift that finger up.
The game is fairly slow-going at first while you get your feet wet finding your way through the flatlands (your little avatar might literally get its feet wet slopping through puddles). As you step over plants and vegetation, fruits and veggies are dropped into your backpack. These can be used later to feed or trade with the creatures you meet. The first friend to appear? Digger, a bouncing one-eyed inverted cone-creature whom you can invite to join your Pack (ahem, the name of the game), as you continue on your quest to save Algos. Two or more friends can be combined in a computational sequence—an algorithm—to aid in performing the tasks needed to bring Algos back to life. Dig up seeds with Digger to start new habitats. Combine Digger with Mover to bring water to the new seeds. Complex algorithms can be created to perform several tasks at once. The world of Algos encourages children to learn and master the use of algorithms in the course of their quest. Kids can unlock secret worlds and improve the one they’re in through the use of this remarkably simple game. It’s also the perfect game for public places—stuffy adult restaurants or silent airplanes—as The Pack comes blissfully free of repetitive music or jingly-jangly sounds. Silence, like eco-friendliness and STEM, is a virtue in Algos. Play on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.