Video games in the schooling system and language localization: a not so futuristic scenario

With the technological advancements happening in today’s world, our lives are destined to change significantly, as our societies adapt to the fast changes. 

In this blog we will briefly analyze the fast changes that new technologies are bringing in our societies, the studies showing the potential of video games for learning purposes, and the possibilities emerging from the union between schools and video games. Lastly we will analyze the new role of video game localization in education, and where the industry is today, stay tuned!

A changing world

New methods of teaching and learning are emerging, and with the exponential growth of the gaming industry, it won’t be a surprise to see the incorporation of video games in the school system. Educational video games have been existing for quite some time, on a smaller scale, but as countries and governments adopt new technologies within their institutions, we could be soon seeing significant changes in the education field.

Have there been any studies about video games and learning?

The number of studies conducted on the potential of video games for learning purposes is quite high, and shows how stimulating they can be for our brains. Between the most notorious we have:

 

 – James Paul Gee’s book called “What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy” where he argues that good video games are hard, long and complex and motivate and engage players.

 

 – “Computer Games for Learning: An Evidence-Based Approach” by Richard E. Mayer: 

The book provides a comprehensive investigation into what research shows about learning with computer games. Mayer divides the research into three main approaches: the value-added approach, the cognitive consequences approach, and the media comparative approach. These methods examine the effects of games on learning outcomes by comparing different versions of a game, studying the outcomes of playing off-the-shelf computer games, and comparing game-based learning to conventional media, respectively.

But how will video game localization fit into this new system?

Although this significant change in the schooling system is yet to happen, it is something that is quite easy to imagine, and it’s safe to say that such a change is inevitable. Let’s explore the possible scenarios.

On the public scene

On the public scene there are two possible routes:

State produced video games

 – In the first one, each country develops its own educational video games:

Each country has its own school system, and its own way of dispensing knowledge,         operating independently from others. Because of that, we can guess that each country will have its own organ of development for educational video games, and so the release of these video games will likely not require localization, as they will be published in the country’s language. 

Externally produced

 – In the second one, countries could rely on video games developed by regular studios, and supply them to schools after being approved: In this scenario, video game localization would be indispensable in case of the developing studios being foreign. Government organs could partner-up with studios via contracts, and fund the development of educational material. This could perhaps lead to the formation of State publishing organs, responsible for the localization and the distribution, or simply, partnerships between the State and already existing publishing studios, via public contracts.

Free market

In the free market however, it’s quite logical to think that we will not see many changes, and developers/publishers will keep releasing games freely in different markets, like they do today for normal video games. 

What role will video game localization have?

With the incorporation of video games for learning purposes, both in the public scene and in the free market, video game localization will be indispensable for a few reasons:

 – Legal compliance: As it’s been discussed many times, video games must be compliant with laws and regulation of the markets where they are intended to be released. Educational video games will make no exception, on the contrary, they will probably face stricter laws.

 – Cultural relevance: Games released for learning purposes will have to be relevant with the cultures they intend to reach, this means adapting puns, wordplay, nursery rhymes, songs ecc. This will also mean changing names and culture of the characters.

 – Units of measurement and currency adaptation: An educational video game without the correct currency or units of measurement will obviously be counterproductive, especially for younger players.

 – Historical names: Very often, historical names and events tend to be slightly different, and while that doesn’t constitute a huge problem, their localization will still be the best choice.

 – Other specific areas, or subjects: With the implementation of video games in learning methods, specific subjects, fields and areas of expertise will need careful and accurate localization, due to specific terminology.

Potentially, this will increase the need for quality translation and localization, as mistranslated content could potentially lead to false information and immediate backlash on the game itself. 

Educational video games today

As of today, there is already an established industry of educational video games. They are referred to as “Edutainment” or “Serious Games, covering a wide range of subjects, such as mathematics, history, science and many more. They combine various teaching methods, such as problem-solving, memorization, and simulation, to enhance learning outcomes, and the interactive nature of video games allows for immediate feedback and adaptation to the player’s learning pace, which can improve retention and understanding of the material.

Notable examples

Some notable examples of “Serious Games” include:

 

 – National Geographic Challenge!: National Geographic Challenge!, available for PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox and PC is a quiz based game, which through the use of National Geographic content aims to educate players about geography and history. 

 

 – Prodigy Math: Prodigy Math is an interactive math game designed for students in 1st to 8th grade. It aims to make math learning fun and engaging through an adventure-style game where players answer math questions to progress and It’s widely used in classrooms and homes to supplement traditional math education and provide a personalized learning experience.

 

 – Nancy Drew video games: The Nancy Drew video games provide a blend of mystery-solving and educational content to players to interact with. They challenge the player’s logic, attention to detail, and knowledge, making them a useful tool for both entertainment and educational purposes.

Conclusion

While this is merely speculation, it’s still pretty reasonable to imagine, and even if we don’t know how exactly this change will impact the translation and localization fields, it is interesting to think about the possible consequences. It’s a subject that can be talked about extensively, and can have many different results. It’s undeniable that new technologies are quickly shaping our lives and our institutions, but we can’t accurately predict how these changes will play out. Until then, we’ll keep making blogs about the various possibilities.

 

We would love to hear your thoughts about this not-so-much futuristic scenario, and the way you imagine things will evolve, so like always, we hope this post can spark an interesting debate.

FAQs

What are the main benefits of integrating video games into the education system?

Video games in the education system can increase engagement and motivation for students, making the learning process more dynamic.

How does localization impact educational video games?

Localization ensures that content is culturally relevant, legally compliant, and accessible to students in different regions, providing accurate information, preventing misunderstandings.

Are there any challenges associated with implementing video games in the education system?

The challenges associated with educational video games in the school system are the need for appropriate infrastructure, training for educators, and ensuring content quality and relevance.