Southwestern

Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

King Creativity at Southwestern

An Extensible Computer Game for Interactive Language Learning (and Other Areas)

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By Stephen Foster, Tommy Rogers, Carl West, Anna Prather, Stephanie Taylor, Claire McAdams, Heather Lesieur, Emily Gutzmer, Bobby Potter, Whitney Johnson, Matthew Scott, Jonathan McBride and Kyle Strine

Given the rapid rise of American gaming culture, many educators and businesses have sought to harness game-related pastimes for various purposes.

The Alice project at Carnegie Mellon University seeks to teach the basics of computer programming through a game-like interface. The United States Army spent several million dollars on an online computer game called America’s Army, which they are currently using as a successful recruiting tool. And community-building games like Guildwars and World of Warcraft fulfill an undeniable social need for large number of people. (According to DFC Intelligence, the online game market was worth $4.5 billion in 2006.)

Harnessing a portion of this cultural phenomenon for pedagogical purposes is what we have begun to do with a special kind of game that not only facilitates educational interaction between the user and the computer, but also between the user and a community of users.