King’s Quest (2015) is an episodic adventure game that resurrects an older cult classic video game series by the same name (the first of installment of which was released in 1984). The game follows the adventures of King Graham of Daventry, now an old man, as he reminisces about them to his granddaughter, Gwendolyn. Aside from the initial opening sequence, players enjoy relative autonomy, and though Graham’s fate is already written, there are many paths to get there. Puzzling problems can be solved in a number of ways, and misadventure does not have any serious consequences (player “deaths” are not shown, and instead result in a “that’s what would have happened if…” dialogue). Though there are rare instances of very mild cartoon violence, in the true spirit of the original adventure games emphasis is placed on use of the heart and head rather than force, and there is little about the game’s content to find objectionable. We recommend this game to kids 10 and older due to reading and reasoning that may be out of reach of younger children. That being said, the game’s amusing story, engaging problems, unique hand-drawn art style, and star-studded voice cast (Christopher Lloyd, Maggie Elizabeth Jones, Wallace Shawn, Josh Keaton, and Zelda Williams, among others), make King’s Quest ideal for enjoying as a whole family.
Adapting and adjusting to changing conditions and expectations.
Because there are many ways to approach problems in King's Quest, and multiple ways to achieve the main objective of each chapter, players will get a lot of cognitive flexibility exercise. A player might be looking for the solution to one problem when a new side quest crops up or an entirely different way of going about things presents itself. It is also possible for a player to have a solution in mind and actively gather materials to that end and, at the last minute, find that it doesn't work out quite the way they hoped. But there is no wrong way to solve problems; outcomes might be different than a player intended -- even disappointing or sad -- but the game will go on, they just have to go with the flow.
Recalling and retaining information in our minds while working.
King’s Quest is not like most modern video games. True to adventure games of the past, it features a wide playable area that is segmented screen-to-screen and does not give players access to a map. Instead, they must rely on their working memory to traverse Daventry and remember what and who lies beyond the current screen. Likewise, players do not have a quest log to help them keep track of their progress. They must keep in mind the problems -- personal and in the community -- they need to solve on their own. While talking to people and re-encountering problems will remind players of what they need to find to move forward, it's a more efficient use of playtime to stay on top of things. Some gameplay challenges memory by requiring players to press certain buttons as prompted or remember sequences and patterns of varying complexity. The lack of “handholding” in King’s Quest is a great opportunity for kids to practice note-taking and memo writing -- a player might even use their smartphone or tablet to add pictures to their notes for a visual reminder -- providing some additional organization practice.
Understanding our own actions, thoughts and feelings and empathizing with others.
Though King’s Quest is a single player game, there are plenty of opportunities social awareness. The richly developed characters bring differing personalities and qualities to the table without presenting them as wrong. Though the main objective of a chapter might be Graham’s ultimate goal, the way is paved with community spirit, friendship, and diplomacy. Players simple cannot achieve anything without taking the time to listen, observe, and help. To top it off, King Graham's reflective storytelling and narration models important metacognitive skills. Two major positive psychology side effects of the kind of self- and social awareness found in King's Quest are gratitude and empathy, making the game an excellent starting point for conversations about citizenship.
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