There were several running themes throughout Play NYC this year, but one that was very apparent was the amount of educational-style games being made or Kickstarted. Tackling issues from political-style governing to social commentaries, educational games tend to get a bad rap from the gaming community due to lacking an inherent fun factor within them. A lot of games, however, hope to change that, such as Spywatch Lex from developer Scholarcade.
Already a fully released title, Spywatch Lex is an adventure RPG that takes it influences from various sources, from Carmen Sandiego to Pokemon, to help students learn a language. Built specifically for classrooms in mind, the game will star a young recruit in a spy operation who must be a master of a second language to communicate with agents, suspects and other characters, solve puzzles, and answer appropriate questions, all in another language.
All of this was part of the goals set in mind by Daniel Turcotte, the founder of Scholarcade. A longtime gamer, Turcotte recalled the struggles he had learning Mandarin in high school, before an innovative teacher showed him a different way to build up his language skills. Turcotte hopes to provide a similar experience with Spywatch Lex, providing a fun and innovative way for other students to be engaged and learn at the same time.
What makes Spywatch Lex unique is how it incorporates speech into the game, much like an interactive Rosetta Stone. A microphone is required to pronounce and speak words in either Spanish or Mandarin, where players will have to talk to the game in their chosen language to proceed. The target language can be learned through not only talking, but piecing together clues, learning specific words and phrases, and practicing the mastery of the language where you are required to talk your way through enemy spies. Currently, only Spanish and Mandarin are offered as languages, but Turcotte hopes to include more languages in future updates of the game, with Japanese being one specifically requested.
Because the game is designed to be a teacher tool, a full teacher dashboard is also included, where teachers can monitor the progress done by individual students closely, right down to the types of phrases said and the levels of the game that have been completed. This makes the game tailor made for classroom settings first and foremost.
Scholarcade has partnered up with several key organizations, such as the ACTFL and the and is even a finalist for LaunchPad, the language education technology competition, which will be giving out its 2019 award this November.
Teachers and other gamers can check out Spywatch Lex on Scholarcades official website here.
What are your thoughts on Spywatch Lex? Leave a comment below and be sure to check out the rest of our Play NYC coverage here.