This week Google Arts and Culture released a new game for students. The game is called The Descent of the Serpent and it’s available to play in your web browser or in the Google Arts and Culture apps for Android and iOS.
The Descent of the Serpent is a game through which students can learn about civilizations of ancient Mesoamerica. Students play the game from the perspective of one of four characters representative of mythological figures in Mesoamerican culture. Students then navigate through four levels of the game in a quest to find and recover twenty lost objects and return them to Chichen Itza before the solar equinox.
The game play of The Descent of the Serpent is a little reminiscent of Legend of Zelda (yes, I realize that’s a reference point that dates me as a late Gen-Xer). Players navigate through scenes while trying to dodge obstacles and objects in their quest to find the missing artifacts. When players find an artifact they are shown a little bit of information about its history and significance.
The Descent of the Serpent can be played in story mode or in challenge mode. The story mode allows players to keep playing regardless of how many times they hit a dead-end or get hit by an object. The challenge mode gives players just five “lives” before they lose the game and have to start over.
Applications for Education
I played The Descent of the Serpent for about 15 minutes this morning then had to force myself to stop because I could have easily gone down a rabbit hole of playing it for much longer (note, I’m not skillful when it comes playing video games in general). I found the little pop-ups of information after finding each artifact interesting. That said, I look at the game as a fun way to introduce students to ancient Mesoamerican history and not as a replacement for complete lessons.