cover art by AAAGameArtStudio

There’s a heatwave everywhere. Our gaming area (and my filming area) is near windows and with the removal of several trees thanks to the winter storm and our tiny tornado, we have a lot more sun. This makes the house hot. Thing 2 and I have fans running almost where ever we go. This has made it hard to do some board gaming.

I have allowed more video games during this time. I found myself busy with crafts and working on links for special needs camps (available on the links page). I’d be doing more crafts, except my fingers have blisters.

HOGs:

What are HOGs?

HOGs are an acronym for Hidden Object Games (not to be confused with the hog pictured). The object of the game is to literally find objects hidden in pictures, some games will include puzzles with them. I’m sure you’ve seen tons of adverts for HOGs on your smart devices that require energy to play. Once you run out of energy, you have to come back later. I find these games annoying. Good news is there are full games that you can purchase and never have to worry about energy.

Photo by Brett Sayles on Pexels.com

The history of HOGs

excerpt from I SPY

Hidden object books were the first in this genre. The oldest being Where’s Waldo in 1987. (I thought I had all the books, but apparently 2 more were released in the 2000’s…). I Spy followed suit in 1992. Look and Find decided to follow up and incorporated major franchises into their hunting books. These books are still popular today.

Then came the disaster of the Saturday Morning cartoons trying to bring the books to the “boobtube”. Followed yet again, by more disasters of HOGs on early platform gaming.

Case in point, the original Nintendo, aka NES, released the Where’s Waldo game. Even if you were a master at the books, the pixilation, the poor movement controls, plus the timer made this game extremely stressful and unenjoyable for many. It’s right up there with Atari’s ET in my opinion.

Thankfully things improved as computers evolved.



An in-game screenshot from the 1991 NES video game Where’s Waldo?.
Fair use

How are HOGs beneficial?

  • HOGs promote attention to detail. Children who play HOGs get better at focusing on details of other visual challenges
  • HOGs increase vocabulary. Most have a list for the player to find. If the player doesn’t know what an item is, they can use hints to learn where (and what) the item is. The only issue I have with this is the game developers often get musical instruments wrong. It’s a pet peeve of mine. This is also beneficial depending on where the game is developed as other countries may have other words for items.
  • Instills good work habits. Because most HOGs now come with a story line, many kids want to continue the game to see what happens next. This promotes longer attention spans and focusing on the end goal rather than getting quick and easy achievements.
  • Self confidence boosting! Having a child finish one on their own, even with hints, is a huge boost in their confidence.
  • Improved visual perception. Children will be better at recognizing shapes and objects when they aren’t in their “typical” environment.

Benefits of HOGs for special needs kids?

Including the list above…

  • Most HOGs you can’t die in or have minimal consequences for mistakes. This can help with anxiety or anger issues
  • Most newer HOG’s have a relaxed mode, meaning there is no timer.
  • HOGs are run with a mouse or your finger on a smart device
  • Story driven… most have closed captions or the option for captions and newer ones have voice overs for those struggling to read

Suggestions on games?

We have tons of HOGs. Many of them come in a series. It all depends on your fav genre. Please note, I have found the best place to get HOGs both on the computer and the smart devices is from Big Fish Games. You do purchase the game, but that means no adds, no energy, and you can install and reinstall as much as you want. They also give you the feature to try games before you buy. That feature has been a major game changer in this house. Here’s a list of our favorite series by genre (all photos provided by Big Fish Games). Note: if you see one that says “Collector’s Edition”, it includes DLC and the strategy guide. Usually the strategy guide is sold separately and the DLC is exclusive to the Collector’s Edition.

Super natural and horror
12 games and counting. This is a fav in our house. It takes stories written by Edgar Allen Poe and turns them into playable stories where you are the assistant to a detective and need to solve them. No timer, added puzzles, spooky themes. Thing 3’s fav series. (warning, horror themes and murder).
fantasy
2 games in the series. You attend a magical school much like Hogwarts. There is a “timer”, your cauldron fire can go out.
other
9 games in the series thus far. Super cute game series when you are in the holiday mood. Some are versions of Christmas classics, others are blended fairy tales. No timer.

4 games and completed, this is definitely a spookier one. No timer, added puzzles. Warning: lots of ghosts and mention of how they became ghosts.
I think there are 7 games in this series. It follows a human princess in a fantasy world. There are various puzzles mixed in. No timer. Thing 4 and 5 love this game series.
5 games, all different locations or time periods. Beautiful scenes.
6 games in the series and completed. The theme of the series is you are visited by ghosts of famous historical figures, but they need your help to solve mysteries from the past so they can rest in peace. No timer, added puzzles, spooky themes/historical fiction
16 games and still going. One of our favorite series by far. This series tells the “true” stories behind your favorite fairy tales. All have a Grimm or Anderson like twist to what’s going on.
3 games in the I Spy franchise. Just like the books, except with a voice over. No timer, some easy puzzles added, and replay changes some of the riddles.
22 games and counting, not including the spin off games and novel series (this is a huge series). This is a favorite of the house, we often play it as a whole family. The first couple of games start out mundane, with normal crime solving HOGs, but by the 3rd one, it quickly goes supernatural. After the 3rd case, you are now specialized in the supernatural… all the games tie together (except the first 2). I suggest you play them in order. Timer leave by 5th or 6th game, if memory serves. Lots of added puzzles including Rube Goldberg machines. One of the harder HOGs. warning: “freak shows”, haunted houses, general macabre. Thing 2 avoids many of these game nights.
This is a stand alone game, but all the kids loved this one. Along with the hidden object scenes, you also make potions. No timer, simple enough for preschoolers.
7 games in series. This is just a relaxing game with interesting scenes on cruise ships. The kids like to find objects belonging to the lost and found and we make up stories about what kind of people would lose such items everywhere. No timers, added puzzles
3 games and completed. This is a pirate trilogy following a cursed pirate, a cursed town, and the scariest name to all pirates, Davy Jones. No timers, added puzzles. warning: sea monsters and ghosts. This was Thing 2’s favorite for years, she had a pirate fixation.
12 games in the series. Theme is a princess has to save her kingdom and her family form evil forces. No timer, added puzzles
11 games in series. I’ll admit I prefer Park Ranger or the Cruise Director. The scenery is prettier… except for the trash you have to clean up. It still has the lost and found bonus items and recyclables. No timer, added puzzles.

In closing…

I’d seriously recommend an HOG for you to try. Figure out what genre works best for you. Try before you buy! Play the games with your child(ren) so they can learn how to do them. Pick series you may want to play as a family. Remember, the family that plays together stays together!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s