Point-and-Click Adventure Games as *Possible* Learning Tools

Back in the 1970s, various persons developed text-based computer games that involved putting players in situations in which they choose a response, type it in, and go to the next situation. Someone even developed a computer language for the games, based on the LISP language. These games were somewhat popular for a time. The games are often assigned the name “interactive fiction,” but their more general name is “adventure games.”

In the 1980s, LucasArts produced graphic, point-and-click versions of adventure games for computers that used graphic user interfaces. Apparently these were quite popular at the time. During that same decade, Brigham Young University and the BBC co-produced Montevidisco, a Spanish-language-teaching program in an adventure-game format. In the 1990s a commercial language-teaching adventure game came out called Who Is Oscar Lake?

Moodle has a “Lesson” module (you can click the “Login as a guest” button to read the linked discussion, or you can register if you like) that could be used to create text-adventure-game-type lessons, possibly using (most likely non-animated) graphics and sounds. In fact, it is possible to use this module with only graphics and sound, i.e., without any text.

After rooting around on the 'net for these kinds of things over the past few years and piddling around with these ideas for a good while, I’ve concluded that it’s probably laughably impracticable for me to (a) learn programming (or at least Java or ActionScript), (b) learn to draw adequately, and to make animations, and © produce my own English-teaching software using a similar framework to that of point-and-click adventure games, and possibly even including learning-oriented adventure games.

However, there are some people who are attempting to teach English using extant point-and-click adventure games that were not created for that purpose. Here is a PDF-format article on the subject by Graham Stanley and Kyle Mawer, both of the British Council in Barcelona: kylemawer.wikispaces.com/ .

Here are some sites containing point-and-click adventure games:

pastelgames.com/index,games,flash_games.html
amanita-design.net/ (click “FLASH GAMES” at the top on the right side)
abc.net.au/gameon/chasm/ (thanks to sandman for this one)
neutralxe.net/esc/
www2.warnerbros.com/web/arcane/home.jsp

Just in case anyone decides to try any of these games on students, a few words of caution are in order:

–I used the word Possible in the thread title because I’m not sure how effective the games are as teaching/learning tools, or even whether they’re effective at all.

–Some of these games contain images or other elements that may not be suitable, especially for young learners. The games should be tried out before they are used in class (also because you might not want to be stumped by the game during class).

–These games, like other kinds of computer games, probably have an addictive quality (I don’t want to be held responsible for “creating a monster,” so to speak).

–There are not only learners but also bosses and, where applicable, parents (i.e., keeping your job) to consider.

I actively encourage my students to join chat rooms and play games to practice their English in their free time. Those who do, show improvements. Text based or reliant games are good for practice. They may not be ‘educational’ persay, but practice is practice. Vocab and grammar books are all fine and good to learn more - but useless witout practice.

My students (high school) all pick up English from movies, games, Facebook, YouTube and so on. I’ve had students who play Counterstrike come up to me and ask what ‘fire in the hole’ means… or was it ‘fire inter ho’?

The warnings given are definately good to consider, but are they educational? Maybe, maybe not - but if it’s in English, it’s beneficial.

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Adventure games would be great for kids. They need SOMETHING to develop some sort of imagination. These games require it, and I see very little around here that encourages anything but study study study work work work, be a zombie be a zombie in Taiwan…

I grew up on old Sierra games where you had a parser to type out your commands (and even some text adventures before that), and later the point and click games. I’d absolutely recommend them to students. I usually deal with adults with no imagination though, so I don’t know if they’d be very good at it.