Thursday 6 December 2012

Means? Justified!

Anyone who has been, has had or has known of a teenage boy anytime in the last two decades can attest to the life consuming talents of videogames.  Somewhere along the line of one of the aforementioned was some kind of educator, or perhaps just a doe-eyed idealist who believed that there was some positive lesson to be taken from the beast and reapplied to a productive purpose and educational videogames were born.

For decades edutainment in all of its forms has generally been regarded as a fool's errand.  The kind of thing that committees push at board meetings six months before their entire department/company is looking for new jobs as they watch whatever isn't nailed down get sold off to pay each hand that is owed.

It could be argued that there have been some few success stories in the past, like the Carmen Sandiego  games that sometimes came packed with single volume encyclopaedias, but for the most part any educational content in a game that could be be deemed even remotely entertaining was purely incidental.

Then there was Duolingo.

Duolingo launched just over a year ago, and comes at it from a different tack.  Instead of starting from a desire to entertain, it starts with those core game mechanics that not so subtly engage our pavlovian responses.  The very same ones that have been employed to encourage us to drop coin to reach the next level or earn extra skills in World of Warcraft or Farmville.  Except Duolingo has a far more insidious agenda.  Polyglotism.  Yeah!  I'm not kidding.  They actually want you to learn and use languages other than English.  In the real world!

Whatever you do, do not go to and sign up to learn French, Spanish, German and/or Portuguese for FREE in an addictive format that will leave you conjugating verbs in your kitchen, on the bus  and in front of your children/parents.  You'll tell a friend and they'll tell a friend.  Lovers will meet up in darkened hotel rooms to master German nounal genders while the muted tv flickers in the corner washing their multilingual debauchery in a pallid light.   This is a disease.  This is a danger to all people.  Languages other than English could become an epidemic.  Imagine the havoc that would be wrought if this kind of thing were to spread. This is the nightmare.  The one they spoke about.

Duolingo is crack for people who like to travel.

For 10 points: An english word that pluralises by inserting the 's' into the word instead of at the end.

1 comment :

Jacob Henwood said...

An answer, if anyone was interested, was passersby.