Monday, 18 November 2013

Learning a New Language Is Play instead of Work with Influent

TSUKUBA, Japan -- Nov. 18, 2013 – Someone has stolen Andrew Cross’s invention, a device that can scan and provide the pronunciation of any object in any language, and players must help him recover it.  While helping Andrew recover his creation, players acquire an extensive vocabulary in a new language of their choice.   At launch, players can choose English, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, French, Swedish or Bulgarian.

The game, Influent, closely mirrors the immersive process that occurs when people transport themselves to a foreign country.  With less distraction, players can focus on listening and quickly absorb the foreign words, allowing them to start speaking the new language. 

Using a new version of the device, called the SanjigenJiten, players explore Andrew's apartment, a 3D interactive environment filled with hundreds of everyday objects. Players set their own pace, adding new words to their vocabulary as fast or as slowly as they wish.  Mini games like Timed Attack and or Fly By, where players pilot a toy spaceship, allow players to challenge themselves to see how much they have accomplished.

The creation of Influent began as a research project at University of Tsukuba’s Entertainment Computing Laboratory studying the educational impact of video games.  Rob Howland, an American conducting the research, and also needing to learn Japanese, got the idea for the game.

“As a part of the gamer generation, flash cards and text books just didn't engage me the way games could. I just wanted to play," Howland said.  “Influentcombines the effectiveness of language immersion with the deep engagement of video games.  The research indicates we may be on the cusp of a major revolution in the way people acquire new language skills.”   

Influent is available for $10 on Playism (  The game includes one language of the player’s choice; each additional language pack costs $5.  Each language pack includes approximately 500 everyday words.  Influent works on Windows, Mac and Linux PCs with almost any graphics card.

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