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Edutainment Ahoy!

April 4, 2012

So today – it’s the big announcement day, but before we get onto that, I just want to quickly clarify that yesterday’s anti-corporate rant was as much about me and my impatience as it was anything else. I hope no one is offended, I do think Lucasarts has made some amazing stuff and will do again. I can’t see them letting me make games of my choosing every four weeks, which is where this crazy indie folly comes in.

Boring bit: don’t read this unless you are a geek:

So my game, well I had the idea a while ago, and started looking at it in Unity, but upon setting out on my own I decided to scrap all Unity work and get back into my comfort zone with XNA. XNA is a bit more of a straight ahead, make all of the game logic yourself kind of tool. Whereas Unity tries to do a lot for you…I find everything sits clearer in my mind if I know how it all works and goes together so XNA it is.

A friend of mine successfully got an old XNA project I made years ago working on iOS using Mono-Touch / XNA-Touch, so because of that, this change is a no brainer. I can’t make stuff in 3D as it isn’t supported, but for now that isn’t really any kind of problem.

Boring bit now over.

Well it will either be called this, or international pixel party...or something else entirely..who knows.

So the game, well it is akind of blend of Parappa the Rapper, Vib-Ribbon, Simon, and a Japanese dictionary. I have been learning Japanese, and the dryness of the learning material has kind of got to me, so I decided to make a game to teach me how to read, rather than just memorising the characters in a boring traditional study like way.

It is still far from done, but here is a video:

Yes, I know the video is overflowing with professional production quality! And my voice over…just wow! But I’d rather be making this game than editing fancy videos! As for the game, well it needs to be game-ified a little more, for example at the start it won’t even teach you Japanese, and will just be a straight up traditional rhythm action game. But that is all still to be decided, other things still on the cards that might get done (time permitting):
• Fail condition
• Punk Rock
• Boss battles
• Additional sub menus (how dull they will be to make)
• More songs
• Bonus rounds
• Korean??
• English Alphabet (for Japan / Korea releases)??

So yeah, now you understand what that niche market was that I mentioned yesterday…people who want to learn to read Japanese!

It’s probably a game made for me, more than anyone else, which is why when you see it next I will probably have downplayed the learning aspect of it a little bit more. So here’s to those super huge single digit sales targets that I am setting myself up for. Don’t worry, Game 2 will feature zero education and 100% fun times…

In all seriousness though, I really believe if we can somehow shake the stigma associated with “edutainment” that is makes a lot of sense. When I think of all the crap I have learned over the years, like all of Yoshimitsu’s special moves in Tekken 3, or knowing that Charmander is going to get screwed over in a battle against those pesky water type Pokémon. None of this stuff is useful in the real world, it would be great if knowing the magazine sizes of the different weapons in halo could get me some kind of job or something but really it can’t.

I guess I have learnt a couple of things from videogames, I probably know a little bit more about cars thanks to Gran Turismo and Forza, I also astounded my Father once when seeing a golf course and talking about its “dog leg” (thanks Links 2004). But that is the exception rather than the norm. Learning is good, games are fun and force you to learn whether you want to or not, maybe in the next ten years this kind of thing is going to change the way we learn shit forever. Or at least until we all end up with Cat5 network ports for a direct mental connection with Wikipedia sliced into our faces.

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  1. Richard permalink

    That’s a great concept you got there James. Dig the tunes too! Weird hearing your voice after all these years!

    Would be great for beginner Korean leaners too.

    • Are there any weird things with Korean? Wikipedia said there aren’t too many default characters? But I am sure that isn’t the full story?

      • Richard permalink

        Korean characters are MUCH easier to learn as they are all phonetic and very logical. You’d have to do character groups, not individual characters, as that’s how real sounds are formed in Korean. Your idea would still make it a fun way to learn them though, despite the less demanding learning curve.

        Do you envisage any way in the future of users inputting lists of sounds/characters of their own, you know, like people make their own sets of flash cards?

        If the concept turns out to be sound, you could even do the same for English.

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