My interview for the Italian video game online magazine/platform Multiplayer.it about one of my favorite video game series ever, Shenmue, and its value in terms of acquisition of Japanese language & culture, was published today:
An English translation of the article is available here:
Thank you Emiliano Ragoni of multiplayer.it for your excellent article! And Arigato! Mr. Yu Suzuki for your gaming masterpiece!
In my recently-published scholarly article “Using Video Games to Teach Italian Language & Culture: Useful, Effective, Feasible?” NEMLA Italian Studies XXXIX special issue “The Italian Digital Classroom: Italian Culture and Literature through digital tools and social media.” [available as a PDF download (https://www.buffalo.edu/content/dam/www/nemla/NIS/XXXIX/NeMLA%20Italian%20Studies%202017%20-%20Using%20Video%20Games.pdf and in print], I also mention the Sega Shenmue series as an excellent learning device, the best, in my view, in terms of Japanese language and culture acquisition. The game includes Japanese and English audio tracks and subtitles. Lip-syncing is in Japanese. The first episodes is set in the Japanese town of Yokosuka,
The first game in the series was released in 1999 in Japan and in 2000 in the US and Europe on the Sega Dreamcast. Episode II was released in 2001 on the Sega Dreamcast, then ported in 2002 on the original Microsoft Xbox. The first two episodes in the series have been recently re-released (August 2018), updated in high-definition, on PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Windows PC. A third, new original episode is scheduled for release in late August 2019.
In my interview, I also discuss my methodology (IAC: Identify, Acquire, Create); my current work with the Assassin’s Creed series and future developments with Assassin’s Creed Origins and Odyssey; and my participation at SXSW EDU in Austin in March 2019.
Image: Sega Shenmue – Sega AM2 – Creator Yu Suzuki.
Grazie! / Thank you Saint Louis University Reinert Center for your video interview and feature for the Faculty Spotlight section of the current issue of Techology for Teaching, the Reinert Center Journal on Pedagogy, Educational Technology and Evidence-Based Teaching Strategies.
Today, November 27, 2018, I had the pleasure to deliver a distance-learning, one-hour seminar on video game-based learning for Dr. Sara Alloatti’s “Mediendidaktik für den Fremdsprachenunterricht” (Foreign Language Media Pedagogy), a graduate course for foreign language teachers at the Institute of Education Science in the University of Zurich, Switzerland:
The interactive, multimedia-based seminar was conducted in real time over online platforms and included a Q&A session.
Many thanks (grazie mille!) to dr. Sara Alloatti for inviting me, and to her students for the interaction and feedback, which will assist me in furthering my research and project developments.
On June 6, 2018 I was invited at the Alpen-Adria University of Klagenfurt, Austria to present at their “Lehre und Lerntage”/Teaching and Learning Days E-Learning Conference. I delivered one presentation, “Video Games & Learning in Higher Education,” and two workshops, a general, multidisciplinary one on video game-based learning (VGBL) in Higher Education, and a practical workshop on VGBL in second/foreign language acquisition.
It was my first academic experience in Austria, and it was an absolutely fantastic one. The E-Learning Conference, celebrating the 10th year anniversary of the E-Learning Center at AAU, was very well organized (Vielen Dank Dr.in Gabriele Frankl, Dr.in Sabrina Brauneis & Team!). The Vice-Chancellor, Dr.in Doris Hattenberger, actively participated in the entire conference, and treated the invited speakers with genuine care and appreciation, well above the traditional professional standards. I was very impressed.
A video recording of my general audience VGBL presentation is available here:
Thank you/Grazie/Danke Alpen-Adria University of Klagenfurt!
I am very excited to announce that my article “Using Video Games to Teach Italian Language & Culture: Useful, Effective, Feasible?” NEMLA Italian Studies XXXIX special issue “The Italian Digital Classroom: Italian Culture and Literature through digital tools and social media.”, 2017, pp. 42-71, was published today, October 6, 2018. It is available as a PDF download (https://www.buffalo.edu/content/dam/www/nemla/NIS/XXXIX/NeMLA%20Italian%20Studies%202017%20-%20Using%20Video%20Games.pdf) and in print.
This 30-page article is my most extensive contribution to the field of video game-based learning (with a focus on commercial, non-serious gaming) in second/foreign language acquisition to date. It is a practicum. While it focuses mainly on Italian as F/L2, the information and instructions provided can be applied/adapted to any major language/any language in which the games mentioned are localized. It also includes plenty of information on video games for use in ESL, Japanese as a foreign language & culture, and for K-12.
Many thanks to the editors Tania Convertini, Ph.D., Dartmouth College and Simona Wright, Ph.D., The College of New Jersey for this excellent opportunity.
Video games are an integral part of life for our students. Some commercial video games are multi-media realia that can be used to enhance language acquisition both in and outside the classroom. Compared to other digital realia, they add opportunities for language exploration: direct interaction and agency; critical thinking and problem-solving; and a detailed narrative. This article presents a practicum for their use. Evidence that utilizing communicative video games can be conducive to F/L2 acquisition is provided, particularly focusing on the use of Assassin’s Creed II and Heavy Rain. Then, technical advice and best practices related to gaming in F/L2 acquisition are offered. Discussion of the development of an intensive language & culture course for gamers concludes the article.
I am honored to have met today with Martin Dionne, cultural attaché of Québec in Chicago. I was invited by Dr. Lionel Cuillé, French professor and Jane and Bruce Robert Chair in French and Francophone Studies at Webster University in St. Louis.
Very happy to be involved in a project that involves Video Game-Based Learning in Second/Foreign Language Acquisition that is planned for fall 2019 here in St. Louis. The project, sponsored by the Government of Quebec, will include roundtables on Video Game-Based Language Learning, Higher Education and the job market in the French Canadian gaming industry.
The presence of companies such as Ubisoft, EA, Eidos, Bethesda, Square Enix, Warner Bros, makes the French-speaking Canadian province of Québec one of the leading regions for the gaming industry worldwide. Effective foreign language acquisition in Higher Education provides students with the necessary skills to attain fluency in other languages, which increases their opportunities in job markets throughout the gaming industry worldwide.
Glad to represent Saint Louis University and the Deparment of Languages, Literatures and Cultures on such an important project.
For decades now, video games have been a pervasive part of our culture. About half of American adults play video games (Duggan, 2015), while 97% of teen boys and 83% of teen girls also play video games (Anderson & Jiang, 2018).
The potential for utilizing gaming in learning has been explored in a variety of fields, including language acquisition (e.g., Reinders, 2012). Some commercially available cinematic video games are fully-interactive multimedia experiences, Thus including such games in the curriculum as realia (Spurr, 1942; Dlaska, 2003) can help students reinforce, and expand upon, materials they learn through traditional methods. Realia reinforce foreign/second language (F/L2) acquisition through development of specific personal interests. Cinematic games, similar in nature to movies, also add agency, which improves learning (Deters et al., 2014). They also involve problem-solving and critical thinking that can be applied to group interaction, all of which is particularly conducive to learning (Wenger, 1998) and F/L2 acquisition (Nunan, 1992). Video games can contribute to the goal of transforming our students into life-long learners of (a) F/L2 language(s), a process explored by CALL (e.g., Smith, 1997).
As a professor of foreign languages, literature and culture, I have been experimenting with video game-based learning since 1998. In recent years, I have found that some highly communicative-oriented, cinematic video games to be effective in my classroom as supplements to more traditional teaching techniques, as a tool to reinforce vocabulary and grammatical forms, as a means to present authentic cultural data, and as a challenge for students to problem solve in their target language (TL). Games such as the main chapters in the Assassin’s Creed series (Ubisoft, 2007-2018. Currently, there are ten main “chapters” available in the series; eleven with Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which is due for release in two weeks) are fully-interactive multimedia experiences combining real-time animation, speech/dialogue, subtitles, writing (textual interaction) and, in some cases, even spoken interaction, in the form of audio/video chat with other users. As a form of digital realia, artifacts in the TL that help enhance language acquisition, they can be used to reinforce and expand materials that have been previously learned through traditional methods (Bregni, 2018a & 2018b).
My own education, first for my Laurea in Italy, then during my Ph.D. studies at the University of Connecticut, has always been broad and interdisciplinary. I have a solid background in Classics, History, Medieval Studies, International Studies, Philosophy and Theology. Along with language, I have taught a variety of courses, from Medieval & Renaissance to contemporary literature, culture and cinema, all with a multidisciplinary approach that has yielded excellent results. Students have consistently indicated a very favorable evaluation and enjoyment of my approach to foreign language, culture and literature learning through a variety of digital media. I have made Computer Assisted Instruction (C.A.I.) a regular part of my teaching since 1997, implementing several different web and multimedia based activities.
Based on my research and teaching practices, video game-based learning (VGBL) is effective in augmenting and expanding knowledge that has been acquired through traditional methods. Research (mine, as well as that of others) indicates that playing video games involves a physical response from the body that increases acquisition and memorization (Total Physical Response (TPR) theory), adrenaline production, which has also been shown to increase learning, and captures the player’s focus and attention (Csikszentmihályi’s Flow theory). All of the above points in the direction of video games being a very effective learning device.
“Serious games” (including recent VR- and AR-based games) have been and are currently being developed in a variety of fields, including mathematics, the natural sciences and the social sciences. Some commercially-available games (such as Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed Series, and Square-Enix Tomb Raider & Life is Strange series) are sophisticated, high-budget, highly-captivating products that can be used in a variety of fields (foreign languages/ESL, history, psychology and the social sciences), for K-12 (elementary/middle/high-school with some age-rating limitations) through university.
While there currently are Game-Based Learning Centers and Institutes at various institutions, their focus currently seems to be more centered on assisting faculty and staff in incorporating “classroom gamification tecniques.” They also seem to be more focused on “serious gaming.” Recent research on commercially-available games indicates that impact of such games on teaching and learning is substantial. Given that some AAA video gaming products (i.e. the Assassin’s Creed series) benefit from the contributions of scholars and experts in various fields (historians, psychologists, linguists, etc.) to produce multi-million-dollars “hyper-polished” consumer products, their impact can be potentially even greater, as research, mine as well as others, and teaching practices indicate.
A multi-disciplinary Academic Center for Video Game-Based Learning (possibly connected to a Game Design program) would gather scholars from multiple fields (in the Humanities and the Sciences) working together to explore the benefits of video game-based learning within and across fields. The Center would also research the implications of VGBL for different types of learners. For example, neurologist and neuropsychologists working with linguists to explore the impact of VGBL on students with disabilities and non-traditional learners. Should such a center/institute also include other forms of game-based learning? I believe so. Such a center should be multi-disciplinary and multi-focused because there is no reason to limit its potential. I have a working relationship with highly regarded colleagues who do meaningful research and teach with boardgames, RPG’s and theater-as-play (dramturgy) with whom I am happy to cooperate for multi-faceted approaches.
This is my vision.
“I firmly believe that learning should be fun. The fact that it is fun doesn’t take away from the seriousness — it’s just more effective!” Simone Bregni, Ph.D.
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I just submitted revisions of my two chapters and one co-edited chapter for Learning, Education and Games 3: 100 Games to Use in the Classroom & Beyond.
The games I covered are:
I am seriously disappointed that I will not be able to utilize the excellent The Invisible Hours VR in my Intensive Italian for Gamers course at SLU next spring because it is not localized in Italian.
As I wrote in my chapter:
The narrative and writing, the complexity of the characters, the emphasis on observation and logic rather than “active” gaming and the theatrical-quality acting, all contribute to making this game ideal for numerous courses (from senior year of high-school to college and adults) across multiple disciplines… the storyline is narrated with audio and subtitles available in multiple languages (Spanish, French, German and English). The game narrative can thus be to provide exposure to linguistic and cultural content in ESL and foreign language courses to reinforce vocabulary, grammatical forms, sentence structure and oral fluency. For ESL learners, an additional feature is the excellent lip-syncing, a rare feature that makes this game more attractive than other comparable cinematic, narrative-driven products. Since players can “project themselves” in front of each character as they speak, close inspection of the lip-syncing (especially in VR mode) facilitates listening comprehension. The task-based gameplay can challenge students to problem-solve in the target language, which is particularly beneficial for language acquisition purposes (Shehadeh and Coombe, 2012).
Dear People at Tequila Works:
The Italian video game market is thriving, and the Italian as a foreign language market is very promising. Italian is the fourth most studied language in the world: https://www.britishcouncil.org/voices-magazine/how-good-italian-businessGame localization in additional languages, while a financial commitment, is a beneficial investment.