The First Series That Got Me Into Gaming: Nancy Drew

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The Nancy Drew mystery series is definitely not a series you would associate with typical beginner gaming. They are all point-and-click games where you solve mysteries as Nancy Drew. I have played a lot of the games growing up with my last game being Shadow at the Water’s Edge.

My first game was when I was 8 or 9 and it was Message in a Haunted Mansion. The game was featured in the Scholastic magazine because these games are educational. You can learn about anything from the Mayans to Italy to Japan.

This particular game taught me all about Victorian mansions. I loved it because the protagonist was a female and she was so like me. We both were sassy and we both loved puzzles. It felt amazing to be playing someone that I could relate to! So I am going to make a list of all the things Nancy Drew taught me for my first series into gaming!

Lessons From Nancy Drew Games

Women can Enjoy Games

These games’ target audiences were women. They were educational, but they were still fun games that girls of all ages could play. The protagonist was also this strong female character who you could easily envision yourself as. Her appearance is only slightly hinted at throughout the series so you can easily pretend you are Nancy Drew instead of her having a set look.


These games can be tough at times for a kid. Some of the puzzles are tricky and took time to learn. There were also difficulty settings to make the game even harder if you wanted them to be! The earlier games made you take notes on everything while the later entries used cell phone cameras or automatic notes to make things easier.

I remember in Message in a Haunted Mansion, I had to keep notes which I took on computer paper. I would write down passwords or any useful information to solve puzzles. I would be so proud of myself when I finally solved a tough puzzle because I worked hard to figure it out!


Nancy Drew gets herself in all kinds of trouble. The game has so many game over screen from when she gets herself in danger. But, she had courage to see the mystery solved. The games could definitely get scary, but I still worked my way to solve them.

An example would be Ghost Dogs of Moon Lake. There’s a scene at the beginning of the game where you stay in a house to solve a mystery when these big glowing dogs attack your house and then you hear them every night! It was so scary as a child and every time I had to play the game at night, I was afraid the dogs would get me.

Still I saw the mystery through and it turns out that those dogs were nothing to be afraid of. No spoilers, but that’s what I loved about those games. If they did a horror game, you would eventually find out that there was nothing to be afraid of!


Nancy Drew helps out so many people throughout her mysteries. You have to talk to people to gather information or help them out. It was so nice when you can solve a mystery and help a family!

I think my favorite example of this is Shadow at the Water’s Edge because you help out a nice family with a ghost. You also learn about Japanese culture by hanging out with the grandmother who teaches you things such as calligraphy and origami. But, the villain is treated with kindness here. Instead of having your typical, mean and nasty villain, this one genuinely feels bad for what they did after realizing the damage they have caused. You even have multiple endings depending on the amount of kindness you show to the villain.

Importance of Bonds

Nancy Drew is never truly alone in these games. You can always ask her friends for help and hints! You can call them whenever you need them and they are there for you. Just by using your friends as guides, the games show that it is important to create strong bonds with others and ask for help when you need it. Nancy Drew wouldn’t be able to completely solve the case without her best friends and boyfriend being there to support her and offer her advice!

Thanks Nancy Drew!

These games were such a great comfort for me which is why I attribute them to what got me into liking video games. I had played other video games long before Nancy Drew, but I related to her the most. She was confident, sassy, and intelligent and I wanted to be like her when I was older! I would say that I have definitely gained confidence and sass, but Nancy Drew has way more knowledge than I’ll ever be able to learn! She is a computer and book character after all so she is much smarter than your average person!

What was the series that got you into gaming? Have you ever played a Nancy Drew game?


8 thoughts on “The First Series That Got Me Into Gaming: Nancy Drew

  1. Actually, I have never played a Nancy Drew game, but in a similar way, it was the sassy, adventurousness of Lara Croft that taught me games could be for girls too! I used to look longingly at the original Tomb Raider, until finally, I ended up starting with Tomb Raider 2, exploring Xi’an and Venice was amazing, the spiders were suitably disgusting and I was dismayed at killing the tigers… and even terrified of that T-Rex hiding at the base of the first level. Lara’s ingenuity and problem-solving as well as acrobatic exploration were opium to me, she was both athletic and intelligent! I couldn’t imagine a more fearless woman, except for a few ladies in novels!
    But really in terms of educational games that come with the parental approval stamp, of course, where the Age of Empires series, I designed an entire Cleopatra campaign with its toolset, researching the various battles of Marc Anthony and others.
    But above all was Morrowind, of course, I could roll my own character, a female Breton, spell-slinging champion who rose to the head of the Mages guild and despite facing racist disapproval from the Dunmer Telvanni, rose to head of their house as well. Her formidable prowess overturning the status quo of power on that beset island caused immense societal upheaval and yet she was still, offered two strong redemptions, first finding the cure for a deadly plague and secondly the overthrow of a power that would be as devastating as the conquests of Tiber Septum and his Numidium. Games that offer this sort of agency and imagination are what makes anyone of any gender love them!


    1. I’m glad that you also found a gaming character to relate to growing up!

      My first experience with The Elder Scrolls games was Skyrim on the Nintendo Switch! I’m still progressing through the game and I love playing as my female Khajiit!


  2. I always enjoy seeing how other people got into games. For me, the earliest I can remember is my dad playing Everquest. When I had the chance, he let me play some and would teach me through the basics of an MMO.

    A friend of mine also got into games through the Nancy Drew games and I feel she would share a similar sentiment as shared above. It’s just nice to see that people can enjoy things for different reasons and also gain insight and life lessons from something they may not have expected.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a good prescriptive on Nancy Drew games. Its nice to see that game series has resonated with you. Puzzle games were sometimes frustrating for me especially if I did not have any FAQ. However hearing about Nancy Drew from another perspective makes any puzzle the game from the Drew series worth it to solve.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you do get stuck, you will get hints in game and you can easily find help on YouTube if you’re really stuck!

      I’d say if this is your first time playing a Nancy Drew game, go with Shadow at the Water’s Edge.


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