The Simple Joy of Virtual Hide and Seek

With all the technological advances in video games -- 3-D graphics, motion controls, touchscreen action, real-time virtual worlds -- I find it very interesting (and somewhat endearing) that one video games genre involves nothing more than staring at a still picture. They’re called hidden object games or seek-and-find games, but they all have the same basic jist as those hidden picture puzzles in Highlights magazine that children have been using to kill time in dentist office waiting rooms for generations.

Scholastic Interactive’s I Spy series has made the biggest impact with seek-and-find games, offering kids a slew of lush photo-realistic scenes to scour in search of random items on a checklist. But several other publishers have launched seek-and-find games for older and younger audiences. The Mystery Case Files series, which has appeared on both PC and the Nintendo DS handheld system, puts the scavenger hunt in the context of detective work. As does the game Interpol for Xbox 360. National Geographic’s new PC game, The Lost City of Z (pictured), is a fantastic example of the hidden-object genre, offering a tense adventure story that can only progress by having the protagonist locate artifacts and equipment scattered across crowded jungle settings. And those are just a few of the many titles available.

You might think that the idea of looking for things like a horseshoe or a bone in a picture of a Victorian living room would get dull or repetitive after a while, but somehow it doesn’t. And since the whole idea behind these games is so simple, they’re perfect for kids and parents to play together. Now everybody gather around the computer screen and find that hidden fork!

Have you ever played a seek-and-find game with your kids? Chime in below!

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