Nancy Drew Codes & Clues: A Mystery Game That Helps Girls Learn to Code

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A computer game introduces young girls to coding basics by giving them a fun mystery to solve — with the help of the original girl-detective, Nancy Drew.
photo: Detective Kamenakis

photo: Detective Kamenakis

As she enters her eighty-sixth year in spring of 2016, Nancy Drew adds a new skill to her arsenal of super-sleuthing abilities: coding. Her Interactive, the mystery video game publisher and Simon and Schuster licensee that acquired the video game use of the character in 1997, is now building the newest iteration of the teen detective for the mobile gaming platform. Nancy Drew: Codes and Clues’ target users are young girls, ages five to eight.

Penny Milliken, CEO of Her Interactive, felt the time was right to introduce girls to coding. And what better way to do this than through a Nancy Drew mystery? 

The goal of the game is to “familiarize them with many of the basic aspects of coding as they play.” The game will use key computer science concepts, such as problem solving, pattern recognition, sequencing and other coding skills, as the player navigates the screen to find clues that eventually enable her to solve the mystery.

Since 1998, the company has sold over 9 million copies of other Nancy Drew video games, Over the years, many women who grew up on the books have written to say they’re playing the games. “Our core audience is 10+ but the core demo is 18-34,” Milliken explains. With this new video game we’re “reaching the children of the core fan base.”

Milliken believes the traits that most appeal to Nancy Drew’s fans are the fact she is “smart, caring and brave.” Nancy Drew is “resourceful and also kind,” adds Milliken. “There’s a chapter (in the game) where they don’t find any clues, but they help someone.”

The tech-savvy Milliken points out that there’s a sneaky strategy in blending Nancy Drew’s trademark personality traits with a lot of things girls in that age range find fun, like playing dress-up and visiting horse stables: It’s a “great way to get the girls’ attention” while introducing kids to coding literacy. Or, as Milliken puts it, “You’re putting broccoli in brownies, and they don’t know it.”

About the Author:

Susanna Speier is a blogger for Ross Investigators of Denver, Colorado, which provides investigation services for attorneys and citizens, conducts workplace investigations for businesses, deploys undercover operatives for competitive business intelligence investigations, and uses sexy decoys for fidelity investigations. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook

Speier is also a freelancer for hire and can be reached through Linkedin.