Challenge 2 – Game Analysis

https://www.digitaldialects.com/

Environment: Site where game is played. Click a language to get started, like Italian.
Game TitleColours in Italian
Game DeveloperDigital Dialects
GenrePuzzle
AudienceBasic reading skills are needed.  Roughly 8 and older.  The site states games are suitable for children and language learners of any age.
Learning Objectives/ StandardsGames offer practice in learning a second language, offering audio and aides for 80 different languages. The site suggests incorporating games into curriculum, offering as homework or as independent study.
Italian games to choose from, we will select colours.
Context The games are played on the Digital Dialects website. There is no information when it was created or released.  Upon entering the site languages are listed at the top, click on a language to see associated games for numbers, colors, food, animals, phrases, and vocabulary.  Some languages have categories that combine these elements, and advanced level.
Goals and Rules of the game All games in this environment have a similar goal. There is an opportunity to learn the vocabulary for the selected language and game before play starts. Once the game begins the word is presented and the visual representation of the word must be selected.
English to Italian color translations appear, along with an audio link to hear pronounciation.
Storyline/NarrativeThere is no storyline.
Number of players/player interactionsDesigned as a single player game.
Space/EnvironmentThis game is played on the Digital Dialects website, with all games following a similar format. The first screen has the English to Italian (or whichever language was chosen) translations of colors.  There is a button that will play an audio pronunciation of the word.  There is a link for flash cards and spelling practice of these words.  Once the learner is comfortable with reading and hearing the words they can move on to the game.
The word in Italian is shown or spoken for the audio version.
Click on the color that was just given.
Core MechanicsThe point of the game is to select the color of the word that was shown on the previous screen.  A pie was quartered by a color, requiring the need to choose which color represents the word.  Main verbs include select, match, translate.
Description of game playThere is an audio version and a no audio version. The audio version says the word on one screen, then moves on to the next screen with a pie showing quartered by different colors.  The version without audio briefly displays the Italian word and then moves on to the screen with the four colors.  Once the color is clicked the name appears in the color that was clicked.  If it is correct that quarter of the pie will be enhanced, and the game moves on to the next word.  If the color is wrong the screen displays the right color with the word and the game goes back a color so the wrong one can be repeated.  As the game progresses it includes two colors that must be selected, and later progresses in difficulty to three colors. Upon completion the percent correct is shown with options to play the game again, practice spelling or access flash cards
AudiovisualsThere is an option to play the game with audio or without.  The version with audio only says the word, and the version without only shows the word.  There is no background music or other sounds.  Visually the design is simple, with the only negative is numerous adds showing, which is distracting.
Correct answer emphasizes the color and moves on to the next word.
Wrong answers show the words, colors and goes back to try again.
Progression & levelsThe level of difficulty gradually increases. After single colors are correctly selected two color names are presented and must be clicked in that order. Later in the game the difficulty increases with three colors presented, and the same order of colors must be clicked.
Academic contentAlthough it is helpful to know some of the words presented, it is not a requirement. The game offers flashcards, a spelling quiz, and ample opportunities to learn and practice using the words in the desired language. Immediate feedback is offered since the game continues on when correct and offers the answers when incorrect.
Cognitive ProcessingThere are numerous cognitive processes required to play this game. Just some include: short-term memory to remember the words presented, the translation must be processed and stored in long term memory, then retrieved to make an accurate color selection.

This game directly influences the lower levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy (remember, understand, apply) and helps to influence the higher levels (analyze, evaluate, create). The meaning of color vocabulary must be processed to successfully match with the visual representation. As the level of difficulty increases, with multiple colors presented, remembering is not enough to be successful. Higher levels of play require distinguishing between multiple colors at one time.
The game ends offering a percent correct score, and opportunities to continue learning.
Learning theories embodiedThis game is a wonderful example of constructivism. Constructivism believes the world is real and external to the learner (Ertmer & Newby, 2013).   The game shifts meaning from acquiring knowledge to creating or constructing it by the learner.  Constructivists find interaction between learning variables as an influencing factor on learning. Learning vocabulary is enhanced by exposure, and interaction with those words in a context (Ertmer & Newby, 1993).   Language learning is given a context by interactions between words and the visual realistic representations of those words.
Instructional strategies incorporatedThere are several learning strategies incorporated. 
Active learning strategy: Quickly processing a word in the language being learned, remembering that unfamiliar word and then having to match that word with a visual of what it means.

Assessment-based: Word and color matching is automatically graded, and immediate feedback is offered. In addition, the games can offer practice to classroom learning.

Scaffolding: Guidance in aligning vocabulary with the visual meanings. Leveled difficulty of tasks when multiple colors need to be identified.
Overall EvaluationThe language learning games on the Digital Dialects website meet the goals of offering practice to language learning. The games offer a fun visual way to practice applying words from the designated topic.  Strengths include the wide range of languages supported, and multiple ways to learn vocabulary.  The games are fun, challenging, and easy to play, while offering immediate feedback on progress. Weaknesses during game play include offering audio or displaying words, instead both audio and a visual of the word should be used.  This will make games more adaptable to different learning styles.  In addition, multimodal methods tend to promote better retention (Aghaei & Gouglani, 2016).  Another weakness are the ads showing, these are distracting.  Improvements could be made by adding a storyline to better build a context for the game.  In general, the site and games could have a more cohesive and polished desig
ReflectionWhen learning a new language, it is difficult to retain vocabulary when it is first presented (Aghaei & Gouglani, 2016).  Pedagogical improvements can help this by including vocabulary references, practice, and pictorial examples (Aghaei & Gouglani, 2016). Digital Dialect is an excellent solution to include in a curriculum to better promote vocabulary retention.

References:

Aghaei, K. & Gouglani, F. K. (2016) Multimodal pedagogy and L2 vocabulary retention. International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies, 4(3), 142-153. Retrieved from: https://www.academia.edu/30063249/Multimodal_Pedagogy_and_L2_Vocabulary_Retention

Ertmer, P. A. & Newby, T. J. (1993) Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4), 50–72. doi: 10.1111/j.1937-8327.1993.tb00605.x

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