doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

Whatever happened to …

…. Carmen Sandiego?

Or, should I say “Where in the world is Carmen Sandiego?”

I drew my inspiration for this post from a comment that Andrew Forgrave posted on my “Whatever happened to” post from last week.  In talking about Bits and Bytes, Andrew went all over the television map and brought back some memories for me but he didn’t include Carmen Sandiego so I thought that I’d give it a post for this week.

If you watched the show, who could forget …

“The Chief” was so deadly serious as she laid out the facts of the crime.  I don’t know if was her sincerity that hooked me or the geographic element that reeled me in.  Regardless, I was a fan of both the computer software and the television show.

Thanks to the internet and modern browsers, we can enjoy the show episodes on YouTube or play it online at locations like this.

The show and the software were definitely meant to be educational.  There were exotic locations with terrific images to go along with things.  We have it easy today when we’re told about a new location.  We just open another tab in the browser and search for it.  For Carmen’s run, the internet and a web browser were either non-existent or just an oddity.  Certainly, opening up your favourite world mapping program and zeroing in on a location wasn’t an option.  You either had to pull out a physical atlas, ask someone who might know, or just play the game without really getting vested in the location or the facts.  Depending upon the option you chose, there was either a great deal of education involved or an educational opportunity lost.

The good news is that Carmen is back!  Now marketed by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, there’s an iOS app, a Windows 8 app, and she’s even delving into mathematics.

Could we solve today’s world problems if The Chief came back into full action?

How about you?  For this Sunday morning, please share some thoughts.

  • Were you a faithful viewer of the television show?
  • Did you ever play the computer game?
  • Programs like Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego spawned the term “edutainment”.  What are your feelings about that word?
  • What other pieces of software used such “blocky”  graphics?  It’s a long way back from what we expect today.
  • Can you think of any other computer game that spawned a television show?
  • Can you name any other Brøderbund Software?  There are some obvious ones if you were a user of educational software in the 1980s.
  • Carmen Sandiego was a brand of educational software in the early years.  Would its approach survive in today’s schools?
  • The history of Brøderbund Software is interesting and sad in another way.  It had a history of being acquired by another company which was acquired by another company.  Do you see a danger or a benefit of educational software company acquisition?

As always, I’d enjoy reading your thoughts.

The complete collection of posts in this series is available here.

Got an idea for a future post?  Add it to this padlet.


One response to “Whatever happened to …”

  1. Doug, I never saw the TV show, but this was my absolutely favourite computer game. I loved playing it, and loved trying to learn geography in the process. I wonder if I’d be better at geography these days if I paid more attention to what I learned from this game. I’m curious to see the new games, and how they might be used by kids.

    Thanks for another wonderful trip down memory lane!

    Liked by 1 person

Please share your thoughts here. I’d enjoy reading them.

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