Learning games (or edutainment) are always pushing for new ways to motivate reluctant learners. Let’s face it, if you weren’t reluctant you’d just crack a book instead of loading up a game. In an effort to create a more intrinsic interest in the subject matter, Lukas Ansteeg has launched a Kickstarter campaign for his Spanish learning game, Ludoversity.
The goal of Ludoversity is to teach players how to read, write, listen to, and speak beginner level Spanish. It claims to offer the equivalent of 75 hours of study with comprehension of between 500 and 600 words. Oh, and it does all of this without the pains of studying.
Ludoversity isn’t the first project to attempt teaching through gameplay. Edutainment MMO, Tyto Online took a similar approach. Rather than using gameplay to reward learning, the player is indirectly picking up information while completing game objectives. This indirect or accidental learning has been gaining support in the education community, although its long-term effectiveness is still questionable.
In Ludoversity, players take on the role of a magician’s apprentice on their quest to master the language of magic. All while preventing an evil sorcerer from erasing Spain from history. Players are transported back in time to restore history while slowly learning the basics of Spanish conversation. Each new word they encounter is recorded in a “spell-book.” In order to overcome obstacles, players will need to use these words to cast powerful Spanish spells and restore the country.
The Kickstarter page doesn’t show us much in terms of gameplay. There are a few clips in the trailer that show NPCs already speaking in full Spanish sentences to the player, but not enough to tell how the language mechanics or spellcasting would work. There’s also no mention of how the project will be able to impart grammar or pronunciation without explicitly demonstrating them.
Don’t get me wrong, I’d to play a video game and come away with a useful real-world skill. Sci-fi has prepared me my whole life for this inevitability. Even so, I’m not sure Ludoversity fully demonstrates this possibility. At least not with it’s current campaign.