Home > No. 26 Games again

No. 26 Games again (2007年03月10日)

カテゴリー: The Treasure Hunt Club
Marcel Van Amelsvoort
(Kanagawa Prefectural College of Foreign Studies)
Hello everyone. Recently, I’ve been reading a book on games and learning. It’s called “Don’t Bother Me Mom: I’m Learning.” It’s by a man named Marc Prensky who has been promoting the use of games for learning for several years now. It seems that people are now starting to listen more seriously.

But why would language teachers or learners be interested in games? Well, Prensky suggests in his book that gamers can learn a little of a language simply by playing a game in that language. I’ve been trying that this week with my daughter who is a fourth grade elementary student in Japan and reads English at only a kindergarten level. We’ve been playing the English version of Zoo Tycoon, a game where the player makes a zoo and takes care of the guests and animals. It’s a game that Amazon.com (USA) will ship to Japan (for some reason, there are many games Amazon.com will not ship to Japan and Amazon.co.jp does not carry). Much of the reading on the game is well beyond her level, but she is able to read many important messages about the status of exhibits, animals, and guests, messages that she needs to understand to do well in the game.

But you don’t need to order games from the USA to play. There are many online games with thousands of other players available right now online. They are known as MMORPGs, or Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games. Learners will need some support to play, at least some orientation and basic “survival language.” The good part, however, is that games require active participation and thus are very motivating. In some of these games, players must discuss and negotiate plans with other players, making them very interesting interactive experiences. For both of the games I list, I will provide both a link for the game site and a link for the Wikipedia page about the game. I recommend you read the Wikipedia page first.

The first is first because it is free. It is called Runescape. It is a role-playing fantasy game, the type most of our learners are already familiar with.

The next is produced by Disney and is mentioned positively in Prensky’s book. It is Called ToonTown and involves creating a cartoon character and battling Cogs. There is a Japanese version of this game available and so it might be a good learning exercise to play the Japanese version and then switch to an English version later. It is available for a free trial, but will cost if you want to continue.

That’s it for this month. Have fun and see you next month.