English Learning Game for ULG
The idea behind the English Minnits game is teaching English by engaging players into play and providing training materials via game situations. Everyday English phrases, instructions, and requests are practiced and memorized, while the plot unravels. The game encourages players to apply their knowledge of English to achieve goals in game and earn points.
The owner of the game, Universal Learning Games AB, came up with the idea of an English learning game to facilitate the language studying process. The game had to promote individual study, follow the syllabus, and provide means for evaluation of student progress. When we started working on the game creation, we faced the challenge of fulfilling all of these requirements and keep it engaging for the students. So, we have identified several key components to accomplish it: fascinating plot, colorful graphics, adjustable difficulty, cross-device approach, and more.
The game was built to give a player a final goal to hold their attention and interest. The player submerges into the world of the Minnits. In this world, Minnits and dragons used to live peaceably together. They were not friends, but neither were they enemies. Then the railway came – some Minnits liked it but others were not so sure. The dragons were absolutely sure – they hated it! The railway had destroyed the environment in which they used to roam freely with the result that they are now, jittery, angry and extremely dangerous! In order to resolve the problem the Minnits need a hero, someone who can rescue them from the current chaos and the dragons. That hero is called Wheeze.
The game includes colorful scenes and funny NPC characters. Wheeze must build up his strength by talking to almost everyone he meets on his way to find dragons.
Wheeze can talk to other characters, perform their requests, and get information he need to fulfil his mission to find dragons.
Part of the graphical character designs are done in Unity 3D.
Progress and Difficulty
The Minnits is a self-access game, so students can move forward at their own pace, spending as much time as they need for each task. This works both for quick learners and for meticulous persons, who like to spend their time to clarify every detail. Advanced learners can go to NO TEXT mode and completely rely on listening.
As players advance in their mission, they need to perform more and more complex tasks in line with the implied linguistic progression. This progression develops from relatively simple dialogues with a tangible content to conversations that are more abstract in nature. These later dialogues are concerned with the overall development of the story.
Different Forms of Communication
We’ve invented different ways to train different forms of communication through game situation and in-game quizzes. Though the game trains multiple language skills, here we would like to discuss instructions and comprehension.
The game includes player’s interactions with game characters. This makes it easy for us to focus on an element of the syllabus that is often missing from traditional teaching material: to learn to follow oral and written instructions.
Comprehension - Minnit Slot Machine
To help students practice focusing on the central information in a statement, we’ve introduced a slot machine quiz in every scene. The slot machine contains between 6 and 40 sentences. The very first sentence in the Slot Machine is Wheeze picks up the fire – a short main clause with subject, predicate (verb) and object. The idea is to find 3 different picture images that represent the statement.
Students can play whenever they like – in class or at home – with their progress being tracked in the game and available for a teacher. In this way, students can easily understand their achievements and are inspired to fill in the blanks. The teacher is able to see how far each student has managed to progress through the dialogues and the story, together with the amount of time they have devoted to revision by playing the Slot Machine.
To enable students to play wherever they like and offer them a taste of total immersion in the English language, the game follows the cross-device approach. It has a web version and is available on smartphones and tablets (iOS and Android).
Sigma Software contribution includes:
- Game art;
- Character design;
- Unity development;
- Website design and development.
The game is available for Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and online for a variety of browsers.
Sigma Software has successfully created the game and its website. The game proved efficient in English learning and engaging children, so it was adapted for other countries. Currently, the game is deployed at schools in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, The Czech Republic, Spain, and Colombia. Apps for the consumer market are available on AppStore and Google Play.
Universal Learning Games AB is a company that specializes in developing, producing and marketing games intended for learning