Using Games Designed for Native Speakers to Teach Language

Wizard Productions Sa7a

Wizard Productions Sa7a

Teachers of Arabic (and gamers who speak Arabic) may be interested in a recent posting from The ArabCrunch Blog about Wizards Productions, a video game developer based in Jordan, that has launched four browser-based role playing games and has two new ones under development.

The games are free, with the company’s revenue being generated by optional premium accounts and upgrades that members can buy with prepaid cards, credit cards and soon through SMS payments, in order to progress faster in the game.

The company was launched in 2008. Its first game, Arabian Hitman has 94.400 registered players. The company’s newest browser-based game, Ramoys, was launched only a few days ago, in beta, and is a space age role-playing game.

Another game, Sa7ara, was launched last month and is a role-playing game pitting four different civilizations – Arabs, Parisians, Pharos, and Romans – against one another. Players build a civilization and an army and go to war. It is the first game of its kind totally developed in Arabic and boasts more than 10,000 players. The company’s other game, Arabic Mafia, is a variation of Arabian Hitman.

At an event this week and another coming up next week we have been discussing the use of gaming in language teaching.  In reading about these games, I found myself wondering, if games that were designed for native speakers and intended for entertainment could be used in language teaching? If so, what issues need to be considered? How can the games be assessed? Do you use such games in your classes? What games exist for which languages?

Perhaps you already use them. If so, what has been your experience? What best practices would you advise?

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