Until educational games haven't been very successful. This is mostly due to, as game industry veteran Brenda Laurel put it
However, in recent years there has been increasing interest in this field. The US government, most notably the military, has been putting hundreds of millions of dollars into developing computer game simulations for training and recruiting. Other governments and the United Nations, on a smaller scale, are joining the scene. (here is a recent United Nations game as an example http://www.food-force.com/)."I can sum up educational games in one word - and that word is... CRAP!"
While decidedly in the birthing stage, the results so far show a genre of hyper-growth...All of this means that the next five years will be an incredible ride for the serious games space.
-Henry Jenkins MIT
Here is a very brief and early proposal of what we intend to create. It is a multiplayer video game in which students could chat and collaborate with other users in English and improve their English skills through performing quests in a 3d game world. The reason choosing the RPG genre is that RPGs inherently provide a lot of reading practice in any case. It would be targetted at learners from teens to adults:
Please add your feedback. Let me know if such a game would be useful to you, your hopes, concerns and expectations for such an application.ESL Role Playing Game
This is a role playing game for intensive practice as part of an extensive reading programme. The game will be based on a major reading programme franchise, and can be used as supplement or as an integral part of that programme. The game can be controlled and monitored from a server. Data collected in the server can be used to monitor individual and collective student progress. Vocabulary in the game is kept to the level of the reading programme.
The game is controlled and interacted with by speech recognition software. Movement and actions are controlled by a command and control grammar, and conversations with other players and NPCs are handled by a dictation grammar and use of the keyboard, however only words in the database can be used. NPCs will have AI and grammar engines for interacting with players.
The game is set in a world that is a super-future of our own, which was destroyed by war and “re-awakened” with humans alongside fantasy creatures like dwarves ,elves, pixies and so on. Throughout this world, ancient texts (parts of reading programme books) are hidden. Players quest for these documents, and by collecting parts of the books, reading them (speech recognition) and putting the parts together in the right order, they can level up and gain new powers.
An evil magician (or some such thing) has been turning cute furry animals into monsters. Parts of the books are guarded by these monsters. The residents of this world, aware of their past, are against the use of weapons and violence. The monsters need to be defeated to turn them back into animals again. Monsters are defeated by silly things like beating them around with bread sticks, or casting spells on them like “strawberry explosion” in order to avoid complaints from concerned parents about violence. When players are defeated, they are re-spawned, probably from a location in the town.
I would also like to know:
Do you use PCs or Macs at your school?
What level of violence do you consider acceptable for an educational game:
1) None whatsoever
2) Simulated violence: paint guns, pies in the face, water squirts
3) Non graphic violence: fight with weapons, but no blood/gore/suffering. Opponents might be like robots or fantasy creatures that fade away.
4) Graphic Violence: Heads rolling, blood splatters. It's just pretend