Year Made: 2008
Platforms: PC, Mac, iOS, Wii, Android
Price: PC - $20.00, iOS - $4.99
Content Areas: Engineering, Science
Suggested Age Level: 4-12th grade
Play Length: 5 hours
Number of Players: Single Player
Difficulty Rating: Medium
A unique twist on the puzzle game genre, World of Goo challenges players to reach the end of a map using little balls of goo with different properties and functions. Most all of the goo balls connect in some way, shape,or form, and connecting them together creates structures, shapes, and elaborate designs that can help deposit the necessary amount of “goo” to the end of the level, denoted by a vacuum pipe that sucks the little goo balls to freedom. However, the levels are not simply a bridge construction project. Often, the environment presents unique challenges, such as spikes, water, floating platforms, and other obstacles that require a bit of pre-planning and problem-solving to maneuver your goo balls to safety.
World of Goo connects to a few different subject areas. The game presents a wonderful exercise in engineering, as players must consider how they can make their limited supply of goo balls successfully reach the end using design principles and sound structural integrity. In addition, the game has a world with logical physics taking place, allowing for a good discussion about the physics of the goo creations and why they are or are not working in the environment of the level. Though the game may not overtly teach physics, the presentation of how the goo balls function definitely capture a number of physics principles in action.
The other kicker that brings a new layer to World of Goo is the storyline and narrative structure. Instead of straight narration, players learn about the World of Goo from a mysterious person named the sign painter, who leaves cryptic messages and hints about how to play the game and how the world came to be via signs left throughout the levels. Even without any dialogue or narration, the gameplay and the sign painter’s message reveal that the goo balls are struggling with the immoral exploitation of their kind by the World of Goo Corporation, who uses the offending goo balls for self-serving needs. World of Goo’s unique storytelling helps show the unique ways a compelling narrative can be communicated, helping learners discover new ways to engage others in a medium.
While the gameplay and storytelling are strong, World of Goo has some notable shortcomings. The game is strictly single player, meaning all collaborative play would only allow one person at the controls. In a game where planning and moments of speed and precision intertwine, it is not always easy to remain in the stands watching others navigate the levels. In addition, the direct connections to curriculum are not explicitly apparent, meaning educators need to exert a bit more effort to help illuminate the connections for students.
World of Goo is enjoyable to play, provides new gameplay twists to keep the action fresh, and helps cultivate engineering, science, and critical thinking skills. If the learning was not as abstract, World of Goo would be a top tier pick for an educational game. If the students are adept enough and the educator is creative, World of Goo can be a worthy addition to a secondary classroom.
Educational Rating: 4/8
(Classroom Tech Friendly, Motivation, Concrete Learning, Additional Skills, Feedback, Difficulty, Accessibility, Extension)
Overall Rating: 7/8
(Immersion, Environment, Storyline, Replayability, Entertainment, Gameplay, Originality, User Control)