ScribbleNote (Series)

Emerging Technologies and Edtech June 19, 2014

Country of Origin: US
Languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Brazilian Portuguese, Dutch
Developer: 5th Cell
Publisher: Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment
Year Published: 2009
Platforms: Nintendo DS, iOS, Android, WiiU, Windows (Steam)
Genre: Puzzle
Barriers to Entry: Very low. Touch/stylus control only, readily available platforms. 
Age range:  Late Elementary, Middle School, High School
Subjects: Reading, Writing (vocabulary, spelling)

Scribblenauts is a unique series of games that are built on solving puzzles through only vaguely defined methods. The player is tasked with solving a puzzle with the goal of obtaining a “starite” object, using other objects from the player’s imagination. Players “summon” objects from their imagination by typing in the name of an object and applying it to their player avatar.  

For example, the player may be tasked with retrieving a starite stuck in a tall tree. The player could summon a ladder and climb it, summon a slingshot and shoot it down, or summon a chainsaw and cut the tree. All are valid solutions. Scribblenauts is often referred to as an “emergent puzzle game,” especially when multiple instantiated objects can be combined to produce an effect.

In the original Scribblenauts, only nouns were allowed; subsequent versions have also allowed adjectives in order to give the player more specificity in the items summoned. Under the hood, Scribblenauts has a huge collection of objects created in simplistic 2D art and organized in an elaborate taxonomy, which allows the game to rapidly determine the potential uses of an object due to its parent/child relationship in the taxonomy. Scribblenauts is an extremely creative game, and emphasizes vocabulary (including spelling) as a key differentiating factor in player success and enjoyment.