Anyone Else Thinking About Educational VNs?

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Anyone Else Thinking About Educational VNs?

#1 Post by VNsNow » Mon Feb 16, 2015 2:52 pm

Hello denizens of Lemmasoft B) It is I: your friendly, neighborhood VNsNowGuy! I posted this is another forum. but I also wanted to put it here to get your thoughts and opinions! You see, one of the games I'm currently playing is called Oikonopolis. The game has been around since 2013 in classrooms, but made it onto iOS and Android systems last year. It's very similar to SimCity, but uses visual novel elements and has a strong focus on economics: which makes sense since its goal is to teach the basics of economics to elementary and middle school kids.

While I was playing it, I really started thinking about education as an untapped market for the EVN community. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has thought of it, but in my admittedly country-fried mind it makes a good deal of sense as a skilled enough team can launch their product to several school systems to use as a resource: which equals hundreds if not thousands of students. This ensures an immediate profit, but then you increase the chances of the students taking the games home and playing them; which opens them up to other (NON-ECCHI OF COURSE) games that same developers has created. I also grew up on the Carmen Sandiego computers games so, I dunno, maybe I'm just different.

It has the potential to me, but I am interested to see who else has considered educational visual novels? And, if you HAVEN'T considered making one, why not? B) Graci!

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Re: Anyone Else Thinking About Educational VNs?

#2 Post by trooper6 » Mon Feb 16, 2015 3:28 pm

I seem to recall a couple of different people around here making educational VNs for language learning.
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Re: Anyone Else Thinking About Educational VNs?

#3 Post by TrickWithAKnife » Tue Feb 17, 2015 3:12 am

VNsNow wrote:Anyone Else Thinking About Educational VNs?
Erry day!

Actually I've been slowly working on an educational VN for a while, and given the speed I work, I'll probably complete it on my death bed.

While hardly numerous there are people working on educational VNs, and some who have already completed them.

There is certainly an interest in them, but I guess some people are held back by the extra workload required.

We have extra challenges, not least of all making the VN engaging, have the educational side be as invisible as possible, and also be effective.

The more ambitious the educational goals, the more difficult it becomes.

I'd love to see more discussion on this topic. I think most of us are fumbling in the dark to some degree. There's not a lot of guidance for us, but there's certainly an audience.
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Re: Anyone Else Thinking About Educational VNs?

#4 Post by Godline » Tue Feb 17, 2015 5:23 am

We will have the first glimpse of Kaitlyn out in two days if everything goes to plan. And there's the possibility of turning it into a series if it's got enough interest. :)

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Re: Anyone Else Thinking About Educational VNs?

#5 Post by xavimat » Tue Feb 17, 2015 6:10 am

I'm also into it.

Maybe the word "educational" has lots of different meanings.
- In language-learning games, there is the obvious vocabulary (and possibly grammar) that needs to be learned. Here "educational" is like "instructional".
- But "educational" can also be "suggestions" for life (ideas, values, decisions), and, in this sense, every VN (every narration, actually), presents characters with ideas and values that make decisions, and is built from a point of view (the producer's one) that is shared/proposed with the world. There is, thus, an ethical (and educational) dimension in every story, even if the author has never thought about it.

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Re: Anyone Else Thinking About Educational VNs?

#6 Post by Katy133 » Tue Feb 17, 2015 10:10 pm

I actually have plans on making an educational VN game, but it probably won't materialise for a loooooooooooooong time (got too many other ideas I want to do first).

I was thinking about what age demographic I'd aim for, and what subject I'd want to educate the player on. Things like Math and Spelling, you could easily cheat with a calculator or a mobile phone. I might try something more adult/unconventional as a learning subject, like horticulture or acoustics (the science of sound).

The reason why I've wanted to make an edutainment game is probably because I was a child of the 90s and grew up with edutainment games like Physicus, The Clue Finders, and the Jump Start series.

When I was thinking about what I'd want my educational game to have, I thought of what I liked and didn't like in the different Jump Start games. I loved how the games' characters and world were so interesting. I remember JumpStart Adventures 4th Grade: Haunted Island being really scary (it even had some simple survivour-horror elements), and how different is was to 3rd Grade: Mystery Mountain. What I didn't like was a amount of level grinding and the often anti-climatic endings the series had. And I remember liking the character companion you'd be given in both games.

Seriously, I could go on and on about edutainment games...
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Re: Anyone Else Thinking About Educational VNs?

#7 Post by PyTom » Tue Feb 17, 2015 11:30 pm

Probably my favorite educational visual novel has got to be the Hayabusa - Cinematic Novel - for Android and iOS.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta ... d.hayabusa
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hayabus ... 51664?mt=8

It manages to combine an engineering history and a moe nakige into one game. And while I knew a log about the Hayabusa mission and its results when I played it, I learned things from this game. I kind of wonder if that's the way to do educational games - put people in a place, give them control (or not), and let them learn as history or science or whatever unfurls around them.
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Re: Anyone Else Thinking About Educational VNs?

#8 Post by CrunchyShadow » Tue Feb 17, 2015 11:33 pm

Educational VN's... huh. Maybe a language trainer? I would use one myself to learn some more Japanese.
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Re: Anyone Else Thinking About Educational VNs?

#9 Post by fioricca » Wed Feb 18, 2015 1:12 am

I absolutely love the idea of educational VNs! Like what Trick mentioned though, I think it's tricky to make a good/effective educational game. I've long contemplated quiz/trivia games but never managed to develop the idea well enough... =_=";; I wonder if a game jam for the creation of educational games might help to get the 'movement' started?

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Re: Anyone Else Thinking About Educational VNs?

#10 Post by TrickWithAKnife » Wed Feb 18, 2015 2:04 am

I'd also be keen to discuss methodology, especially with those pioneers who have already completed educational VNs. What they feel worked, how it could have been improved. Things they learned through the process, etc.

I don't know a lot about making games or stories, but I am an educator. Great things happen when different disciplines work together.
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Re: Anyone Else Thinking About Educational VNs?

#11 Post by Godline » Wed Feb 18, 2015 7:08 am

I'd also be keen to discuss methodology, especially with those pioneers who have already completed educational VNs. What they feel worked, how it could have been improved. Things they learned through the process, etc.
Speaking from the language learning perspective, it's hard work, deciding on what words to use and how to deliver them.

I hate when people compare what we're doing to Go Go Nippon or something. But Go Go Nippon only educated people on places in Japan, if you didn't know how to read the language already there was no point to it! So I wanted to do something where people could actually LEARN the language instead of just read along with it. Beginners. There are no games for beginners and Go Go Nippon was NOT a language learning game.

Anyway, since I've spent several years learning Chinese, what better language to start with?

I did intend on doing it to learn myself - but I ended up just using phrases I already knew! If we do a sequel to Kaitlyn in Chinaland though, I'll put in more phrases I don't know so I can learn them too.

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Re: Anyone Else Thinking About Educational VNs?

#12 Post by Rinima » Wed Feb 18, 2015 11:03 am

I've actually been thinking about doing one aimed towards teens doing a GCSE in psychology.
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Re: Anyone Else Thinking About Educational VNs?

#13 Post by VNsNow » Wed Feb 18, 2015 1:57 pm

Now an educational game jam that might be an interesting idea B) Any game jam like that would have to wait to the Summer though since NaNoRenO is upon us. But it could bring out different models and ideas on creating good educational works. Personally, I think there are already several successful models around us. If you want to go big-time commercial, you don't have to go further than the Carmen Sandiego games as they're detective stories that also happen to teach you history and geography along the way. For a visual novel example, my personal favorite is Cave Cave Deus Videt. At its core, it is a game teaching different interpretations of Bosch's Triptych. However those lessons are wrapped in a psychological thriller featuring a protagonist who may or may not be going insane.

So, I don't think it's any particularly different from creating a non-educational game. You just have to ensure the lesson is still in the middle of the entertainment...and that it's age-appropriate! I don't know how languages would fall in this particular example, but if you look at a game with history as a subject you'd have plenty of material to create an entertaining story. Same goes with reading comprehension as you could wrap a good mystery into people's ability into what they are reading. For the religious among us, teaching the Bible through a game has a LOT of potential: thinking Game of Thrones with divine intervention for the Old Testament. It all comes down to the subject matter and the great thing about educational/edutaintment is that there are a lot of subjects to choose from and your own creativity can bridge the gap from there.

Thank you guys for your responses! I'm glad to see so many people interested in exploring this particular market!

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Re: Anyone Else Thinking About Educational VNs?

#14 Post by TrickWithAKnife » Wed Feb 18, 2015 2:09 pm

Godline wrote:Speaking from the language learning perspective, it's hard work, deciding on what words to use and how to deliver them.

I hate when people compare what we're doing to Go Go Nippon or something. But Go Go Nippon only educated people on places in Japan, if you didn't know how to read the language already there was no point to it! So I wanted to do something where people could actually LEARN the language instead of just read along with it. Beginners. There are no games for beginners and Go Go Nippon was NOT a language learning game.

Anyway, since I've spent several years learning Chinese, what better language to start with?

I did intend on doing it to learn myself - but I ended up just using phrases I already knew! If we do a sequel to Kaitlyn in Chinaland though, I'll put in more phrases I don't know so I can learn them too.
I feel your pain. I'm working on one to teach beginner/survival Japanese and skills to help reduce culture shock. My Japanese isn't great, but fortunately some Japanese friends and my wife (also Japanese) help a lot with that side. I'm an English teacher, so that experience has been invaluable too.

Go Go Nippon... Heh, people love to mention it when I tell them what I'm working on. I don't think it's bad, but other than the setting, there's not a lot in common with what I want to do.

I'm not sure about other languages, but games for teaching Japanese focus on individual vocabulary, with no context and little in the way of feedback, other than "correct" or "incorrect". That's all swell, but when I go to a convenience store and they ask in rapid Japanese if I want to have my food microwaved, or if I want certain items bagged separately, knowing how to say "good morning", numbers or colours isn't going to be much help.

In my search for a game that was useful and enjoyable for learning Japanese, I realized that I wasn't the only one. There are thousands of people who want to find an enjoyable way to learn practical language skills. I strongly feel visual novels are a wonderful platform for doing this.


The skills required for language learning VNs will likely differ a lot to other types of education, but the motivations will be similar. Really curious to see what we can do. I'm really happy to hear more and more people talking about their educational works in progress or intentions. Thanks for starting this thread.
"We must teach them through the tools with which they are comfortable."
The #renpy IRC channel is a great place to chat with other devs. Due to the nature of IRC and timezone differences, people probably won't reply right away.

If you'd like to view or use any code from my VN PM me. All code is freely available without restriction, but also without warranty or (much) support.

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Re: Anyone Else Thinking About Educational VNs?

#15 Post by trooper6 » Wed Feb 18, 2015 6:53 pm

The Goethe Institute put out a video game for Ipad/Android that helps teach German called Das Geheimnis Der Himmelsscheibe which is a point and click style adventure game (sort of) about the Himmelsscheibe von Nebra. It is teaches, language, history, culture and is a mystery sort of game.

I quite liked the game. My German is at a higher level than the game so it wasn't a great challenge in that way, but it was a fun adventure. That sort of thing could easily be done in Renpy.

I'd also say that Analogue: A Hate Story had educational elements...in that it taught some things about the Joseon dynasty. I think there are different ways of doing education. Some more obvious than others. Since my main field is History & Cultural Criticism, I'd probably work my educational goals into a historical story in a very non-obvious way.
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