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Alpha_ProgDes

A game that teaches you a new language

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Of course I had an idea for a primary game dynamic. And of course, I wanted to hear your opinions. Granted the storyline doesn't matter but I'm putting one out there to ease the concept along. You're playing a spy game, think 007. Now in this game you run, shoot, mingle and gather information {very important part). As the game progresses, you have to start learning the language of your enemy (let's take Japanese for example). At first, it's small things. For example, you might hear a word or two in Japanese that are key to carrying out your mission. As you progress, the game goes from English (or whatever your native language maybe) to Japanese. Toward the end everything is in Japanese. Speech and words. To complete the game, you have build your vocabulary in that language. Now obviously, this game is for people wanting to learn a language and be entertained. I hoping that people can share ideas, flesh out concepts and be helpful [smile].

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I hope you'll have an auto-triggered audio recorder! Cool idea, but I feel that it will probably get way too difficult, at least the "Toward the end everything is in Japanese". Unless the dialog is kindergarden level the game needs to be very long for players to have the time to learn the language to such an extent to actually play a game with significant dialog.

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I think it's a great idea too. You see, when we are playing a game, we are constanly picking up "new vocabulary", as we learn the game mechanics. I'm not talking about new words, but sometimes we learn that a Sword icon means the attack power, while the shield is the defence. We learn that a green number is a good number, but a red is a bad one (I mean, if your AC is red, then something is taking it down, if it's green, something is buffing him up).

However, when it's time to learn a grammar, things get a little more complicated - but it's prefectly possible, I mean, we all learned how to speak, didn't we?

You know, my father is an English teacher (main language here is Portuguese), and when I first started programming games, he said that one of the teories of teaching a second leanguage was to have the person following orders in that second language. So, you can have a game where you tell the player to "Turn Right", "Turn Left", and so on, and from that you can start to have more complex orders like "Follow that car" or "Turn in the next corner". I never actually coded anything like that, but I really think that it would have worked.

EDIT: also, a lot of my knowledge of English comes from playing computer games, the internet and etc. I can't really tell you how much was the influence, because I took regular english classes as well, but it was certainly a big help.

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I really like the idea, it gives more educational value to a game.
After you played the game you can say "hmm, I had a good time playing that game and I learned japanese..." - and thats a good thing, not only for the game industry...

But like algumacoisaqualquer said: I don't think its a very good idea to have the whole game in japanese at the end, that would be too hard...



- Fenryl

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Quote:
Original post by Fenryl
But like algumacoisaqualquer said: I don't think its a very good idea to have the whole game in japanese at the end, that would be too hard


Really? I thought that a gradual move toward vocabulary would make it easier. Learning through repetition. How much of the game would you have in English toward and at the end?

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I think that how much it should be in that other language at the end should be determined by playtesting with various people. But a total transition would probably go too far, unless you stick to basic constructs and vocabulary. It also depends on how much reference material a person has - German isn't too hard to learn for me since I'm Dutch, but an African langauge would be much more difficult, since I can't use any language that I know as a reference. I guess there's more factors that play a role too.

Perhaps some sort of 'difficulty' setting, that allows you to play through the game without requiring too much grammar knowledge, and just a basic vocabulary, and then try again on a harder setting, which essentially will learn you more? That way, people can go through a familiar setting, so they can build some reference material by playing on an easier setting first, while still picking up new words.

Of course, you can't force a player to learn, but I guess this game would appeal more to those that already want to learn, so I'd say, let's give them various learning curves to choose from.

Oh, and an in-game 'recorder' sounds usefull. Sort of a dictionary that automatically keeps track of what you should've learned. Should you forget a word or two, then you're never far from learning them again. :)


Nice idea bytheway. :)

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Well, the gradual part of it is fine. It's just the duration of the game. Even if it were a 100 hour game (rather long for most games, especially when measuring just a single play-through), I don't know how many people could pick up a foreign language in just those 100 hours enough to be able to understand entire sentences of a sufficient variety for the whole game to be the new language by the end. But perhaps I'm just pessimistic, or a slower-than-average language learner.

Otherwise, though, I agree that it'd be a cool idea, assuming the plot was engaging and would help keep people wanting to progress. You'd need to make sure that understanding the language was absolutely vital to gameplay though, and not allow people to play, die, play, die, repeat, until they figured out the sequence of events and can get through the level without understanding any of the language aspects. But it'd also suck if people felt continually blocked due to not picking up on the language quickly enough. The best way would be to have people play through the game, and learning the language was almost an accident. Once they're done, they're like, "Gee, I actually recognize a decent amount of that now. Cool." Sounds like a hard, but potentially rewarding, concept to pull off.

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Quote:
Original post by Captain P
I think that how much it should be in that other language at the end should be determined by playtesting with various people.


Yep, thats what I think too :-) + learning curves like Captain P already suggested is also a good idea.

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Make it a Sims-like game. The player needs to learn some new words and grammar and phrase a sentence to get his reward (eg. Buy something from the grocery store, talk to a lady). It would only make more sense if the game resembles reality.

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Great idea, this is close to the idea used by the Rosetta Stone software. Although, they don't use English, but represent everything with pictures.

I agree, it would have to be a Sims like environment, or a free roaming type game. If people would use Rosetta Stone (and they do from what I've read), they would also play a game like this. You almost have to de-emphasize the end of game goal, and focus on language level.

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