Carmen Sandiego was one of the 90s weirdest franchises

Originally published at: Carmen Sandiego was one of the 90s weirdest franchises | Boing Boing


You’re not a parent, that’s why.

Kids are the intended demographic, though there are grown ups who clearly are into it as well:


She sneaks around the world from Kiev to Carolina
She’s a sticky-fingered filcher from Berlin down to Belize



I am a huge fan of Carmen Sandiago. Perhaps it was because she was the only female character in games and shows in the 80-90’s I could relate to. Her story arc was about out smarting everyone and she didn’t need a MAN as her motivation for anything.
It frustrates me that nearly all media with female characters has to have some form of romance as part of the story. Guys could have all the adventures they want with maybe a romance on the side.

I also enjoyed the fact I could learn and test my knowledge about the world in interesting ways. Call the franchise weird if you want, but it is my kind of weird.


Carmen Sandiego was the first AMAZING RACE!


This is one of the two things that made Carmen Sandiego a great franchise, the other being Rockapella.


90s weirdest franchises

It started in the 1980s, though.

I’ve never met a single human being that was a fan of Carmen Sandiego ,

As a native San Diegoan, I loved this. As someone who liked “puzzle things” I loved it. As a franchise with a woman who was smart and independent, I loved it.

Nice to meet you!



I can’t think of any educational video games for grade school kids that were better suited for media adaptations than Carmen Sandiego. You can only die of dysentery so many times before Oregon Trail starts to get old.

My kids were fans of the Netflix adaptation. They wrapped up the “interactive movie” episode with a cute callback to the Rockapella theme.


You’re literally on a site that has hundreds of us who were educated about world geography (and world history, and US history) by that woman so it’s kind of weird to hear you say that.


I guess this means you’re too young to have played the 1980s computer games at an age-appropriate place in your life. Me and my friends (who fit the aforementioned criteria) are huge fans of the games and thus get a warm feeling for any related IP.

They were educational games that were genuinely fun (I pirated and played them by choice) and they didn’t talk down to their audience. They also looked great and had a great UI. Those were all extremely rare traits in 1980s software.


Aw man, we played the heck out the games back in grade school and totally loved the show. Missed the later seasons and shows being I was in high school, but still thought fondly of show.
Mix in Square ONE and you had great after school tv viewing.


Well, I guess Ive finally found some I reckon it was just a little out of my age range. I remember them pushing the franchise SUPER hard in the 90s and never personally meeting any fans.

Its purely anecdotal evidence. I know the franchise has to have some reach considering they keep bringing it back. I just remember it feeling like that Mean Girls line. “Stop trying to make Carmen Sandiego a thing.”

I suppose I was wrong.


i am too old, but my kids played the games in the '00s and i found it entertaining and educational for them.
as a personal aside, the GPS chartplotter/ wayfinder on my boat is by Garmin. i call her Carmen and she always finds me and shows me the way back to dock.


Our daughter would have been 7 to 10 years old the first few years of the franchise.

And Rockapella, don’t forget Rockapella, they were rock gods to kids of that era.

I know our kid loved them.


In case I have never shared this little nugget of wisdom with you before, please allow me to do so now:

*lolz + SMH


When I was a kid Carmen Sandiago was one of the few games we had access to. I have pleasant memories playing it on the old mac my mom got through a special ed teaching program or something in our apartment. That computer really made me happier than anything else in my life at the time. So of course, I have fond memories of it.

But these days talking about the games of my childhood leaves me feeling like the scene should be lit by a single incandescent bulb I’m warming my hands over.

Exposure effect I guess, but also I have to admit I think it actually did improve my grasp of world geography so there’s that.


I have been and still am a Carmen Sandiego fan. I don’t know much about the more modern iterations, but the games were probably my first experience with geography and multiculturalism, and the game show was just plain awesome. I’ve been slowly rewatching it lately with some friends (it was apparently never released on any media, because all the video files are fuzzy VHS home recordings) and the level of creativity, fun and style was beyond anything else on TV at the time. A lot of the contestants had such personality, too, I can’t help wondering what they’re doing today as adults and whether any of them achieved their childhood dreams of becoming scientists, comedians, etc.


Also the inspiration for this character: Contessa | Worm Wiki | Fandom?