Posted : 2013-03-12 16:28
Updated : 2013-03-12 16:28

'Serious game' helps interracial children learn Korean

By Chung Ah-young

Many interracial children living here whose mothers are from overseas have problems communicating in Korean at school.

The number of such children here aged 6 or below reached 93,537 last year, an increase of more than 40 percent from 2009. Although they have access to textbooks, these are not helping them communicate on every day matters.

To help them, a newly-developed online game for Korean language has been launched.

"Hangeul Detective ― Hana and Duri" was developed by T3 Entertainment, a sister company of Hanbitsoft, a game publishing and development company, in association with Seoul National University's language institute and the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA).

It is a game with a serious purpose, focused on providing a mixture of Korean language education and entertainment.

"There are many language learning games out there. But there is no other game like ours which encompasses listening, speaking, writing and reading. In that sense, it's the first of its kind," said Kim Seok-min, general manager of T3 Entertainment in a recent interview with The Korea Times.

Hangul Detective: Hana & Duri" developed by T3 Entertainment is a "serious game" that provides Korean language education for interracial children.

It's an online adventure detective game in which a user learns situational expressions in Korean in the process of finding a stolen national treasure based on historical information. Users can spontaneously learn the Korean language while searching for stolen treasures. Given the diversity of the users' backgrounds, the 34-stage game includes national treasures and historical sites from various nations such as the Philippines, China and Thailand.

"Our company has ample experience in developing serious games. This game is designed for biracial children by taking their historical background into consideration," he said.

Before launching the game, it was tested on Vietnamese students, which proved that the combination of education with entertainment is effective.

The game will be distributed through public libraries and district multiracial families support centers in cooperation with the Korean Institute for Healthy Family.

"This game is expected to raise awareness about multicultural families as well as educating them. Also, the serious game has potential beyond its social function," he said.

Kim also emphasized the positive role of serious games. Not only educational courses but also social functions can be achieved through serious games, Kim said.

"Concerning the game, many people have negative perceptions. But a serious game can break negative images by suggesting new possibilities in the game industry," he said.

"The future growth of serious games hinges on the present achievements such as this Hangeul Detective game, which can contribute to society," he said.

Serious games are flourishing in Europe, but the worldwide market still remains small despite its enormous potential.

Given that the current situation of the Korean game industry, which depends more on online games, are challenged by new comers such as China, the Korean game industry should seek new markets.

"We've coped relatively well with fast-changing IT platforms such as online-based web games in the early period. But now it is moving fast toward another phase worldwide. We have to come up with new measures to tackle this change. Mobile games or other alternative ways should be sought after quickly," he said.

Hanbitsoft has developed serious games such as Audition English which offers conversation tools for learners. It is preparing to soon launch Audition English 2.

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