Innovation That Matters

Indie RPG teaches players Japanese

Publishing & Media

Koe is a JRPG that requires players to learn different kanji symbols in order to progress through the game.

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Many people think that games are a waste of time, especially for kids, but they can offer learning opportunities when they’re designed in the right way. We’ve already seen Primo teach coding to preschoolers, and now Koe is a JRPG that requires players to learn different kanji symbols in order to progress through the game.

Currently seeking funding through Kickstarter, the game takes its inspiration from titles such as Final Fantasy and Pokémon, where characters explore a fictional world and complete tasks in order to progress. Players first choose a boy or girl character and give them a name — as is traditional in JRPG games. The character is then flown to a fantastical version of Japan, which they must navigate through while interacting with its inhabitants. Along the way, players will pick up card items from passersby, treasure chests and shops, with each card containing a unique symbol — the kanji that make up Japanese language — as well as hiragana syllabaries that help decode it.

Players use these cards during battles, but in order to use them effectively they need to know what they mean. The game implements communicative language teaching techniques that help each character and its meaning stick, so that users are able to remember that 刀 means ‘sword’ and not something different. They can also take advantage of more battle options by combining cards to form creative attacks.

Players learn everyday verbs and nouns as well as some common phrases as they traverse through the game, giving them a basic understanding of Japanese.

The video below explains more about Koe:

Not only does Koe teach players a new language, but also enables them to enter into a whole world of JRPGs that have never been translated into English. It will be made available for Windows, Mac OSX and Linux, as well as PS Vita, and backers can currently pledge GBP 10 to get their hands on the game. Are there other ways that the imaginative and memorable nature of games can be harnessed for learning?




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