Spanish learning games: hip or lame?

Spanish learning games are boring and lame right? Or can a language learning game actually be fun?

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While researching what Spanish learning games were already out there I have found some good, some bad and some downright fugly.

You heard me.

Fugly.

Everybody is sick to death of monotonous and repetitive articles about 'how video games will help your kid learn' etc. It's 2014, we get it. Games teach.

Maybe in the 1990's when games started to mature this was newsworthy, but right now it's a given. We buy our grandparents brain training games for their Nintendo DS and give toddlers every lame alphabet learning app their sticky iPad can hold.

But what about language games or more specifically; Spanish learning games? Is it possible to create a decent game that actually teaches effectively and doesn´t suck?

When I first start sharing my thoughts with friends about creating Big Bad Spanish some of them moaned that it is impossible not to make an 'educational game' without it being lame.

A good friend immediately sent me this:

The classic crappy golf game from The Simpsons is the epitome of a lame game somebody (inevitably a well meaning adult) gives you and as the video shows...you will play once and then scrap it.

Another friend sent me this:

The unbelievably lame 'House of the Dead Typing' game. It's a modified version of the classic arcade zombie shooter but instead of bullets you kill the baddies by rapidly typing out what words appear on the screen.

Awful.

So what about games that teach you Spanish?

The highest ranking result for 'learn spanish games' is Que Onda Spanish which although seems a little cold and clinical I think they have done a tremendous job. All of their games are html5 and many are free. You can unlock all the games they have (not only the learn Spanish games ) for $9.99 which is a good deal. It's also a great example of how an optimised web app can replace a regular old app that you must download or install on your mobile device.

123 Teach me offer some extremely lame Spanish learning games such as their Tank Battle game where you are presented with a multiple choice before being allowed to fire a missile. I can´t see this hooking people enough to keep playing and learning. Maybe if it was NSFW material it would.

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Digital Dialects is like a glimpse through a time machine to the year nineteen eighty awful. They are not really games to be honest.

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You have to give spanish-games.net props for the sheer amount of panicked content they manage to squeeze into each page.

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It is truly panic attack inducing trying to take it all it in and if you do make it to a "spanish game" the road sign metaphor will drive you crazy.

But probably the best Spanish learning game I've found is Spanish Burrito Builder.

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Ignore the nausea inducing title screen, it definitely held my attention and as a game is by far the best I´ve seen so far.

Surely I'm missing lots of games? There has to be a few crappy Spanish learning games for PC out there that I haven´t seen.

So right now I see the challenge to create a game that 1) is fun 2) actually teaches and 3) looks/feels good as not so hard...well what am I saying? I´ve been staring blanky at a whiteboard full of technical tasks all morning...the road to Big Bad Spanish hasn´t even begun yet.

I must go now and eat a burrito full of verbs.

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