Blog Post 2- Exploring the Zoombini game

I recently downloaded the Zoombini game app on my iPad and have been learning to play throughout the week.  The Zoombini game was popular in the 90s but a new version came out in 2015 to be used for modern operating systems.  The purpose of the game is that the player, myself, serves as the guide for the Zoombinis, which are small blue creatures, and needs to help the Zoombinis reach safety.  Through their journey, the guide has to solve puzzles in order to let the Zoombinis pass on to the next leg of their journey.  One example of a puzzle that I had to solve was figuring out how to get the Zoombini’s around a few trolls.  I had to figure out that there was a pattern, some trolls only allowed Zoombinis with long hair on their path, while other trolls only allowed short haired Zoombinis on their path.


When I first began learning the game, I noticed that there was an option to “practice” at each of the challenges throughout the Zoombini’s journey, without actually being in the game.  This represents Gee’s idea of the cycle of expertise.  The player is able to practice their skills so that when the game actually begins, these skills become more automatic and they become prepared for greater challenges.  While it is nice that the Zoombini game allows players to practice the challenges before starting the game, it made me wonder if that takes away some of the fun.  While the cycle of expertise is an important part of learning, I believe that the practice section is taking away from Gee’s other principle of manipulation and distributed knowledge.  According to the principle of manipulation and distributed knowledge, the more manipulation or freedom a student has can create greater engagement and make the student feel like they have more autonomy.  My only critique of being able to practice all of the challenges before the game is that it takes away from manipulation and freedom and can decrease engagement.

I am excited to continue my journey with the Zoombini game, I have only made it to the third stop of the journey and will report back once I make it through a few more!

Photo credit: Screenshot by myself while playing the game



Add yours →

  1. This game sounds so cool! From the looks of it, this game goes right along with Gee’s theory of expertise. I agree that the more students feel they can distribute information, the greater the student will feel engaging in activities. I can totally back this principle just from first hand experiences in my elementary and middle years of school. This game actually looks really fun and something I would be interested in playing when I’m not tied down in bio homework!


  2. Alanna, I think your analysis of the game sounds spot on for the principles but I wonder if the author is creating a little bit of a sandbox at each level so you don’t quit if you fail the challenges. I guess he’s allowing for a no risk practice zone in order to become an expert to draw you in to keep going. Your game sounds like it is keeping your interest & perhaps it will take up a few hours of your time like these games are doing to me. I think that’s why I try to stay away. Do the challenges build on each other or are they completely different skill sets?


    • Hi Tammy,
      You are definitely right about the sandbox! I am going to explore that principle a little bit further on my next blog post. The challenges somewhat build on themselves, as they get increasingly more challenging, so the user is able to utilize skills they learned on the last level to complete a harder challenge. However, they do not directly relate as the patterns always change. Thank you for your response and getting me to think about another Gee principle!


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