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Native Language Virtual Reality Soon to Be a Reality

In 2006, a few Cherokee words could be heard in the game Prey, where users played a young Cherokee mechanic named Tommy who lived on an Oklahoma reservation with his wise elder grandfather Enisi. However, the game was mostly in English (being marketed to all audiences) and far from historically accurate (for instance, claiming the ancestral homeland of the Cherokee was in the Southwest, when really they were relocated there from the Southeast). Similar to Turok, the protagonist is ported to an alien world where he must fight off monstrosities to discover his heritage and fulfill his destiny.

Recently, the Living Languages blog reported that Thornton Media Inc., the same company that made those Cherokee iPhone apps and the Cherokee Language Pal for the Nintendo DS, has teamed up with Alelo (which means ‘tongue’ in Hawaiian), which makes 3D role-play games – used in the military – for the purpose of teaching language and culture, to develop an authentic pilot called RezWorld, which forces the gamer to learn Cherokee in order to win.

With any luck, the game will have 12 levels, which can later be customized for other languages. It is a costly project, however, as they are seeking interested groups to pay them $300k per level or a million for a complete set. Customized versions would be much more affordable ($250,000 per set). The game will include, a dictionary, grammar explanations, translations, 40 skill building lessons with 1800 vocabulary words, 100 dialogues, over 1000 exercises and quizzes, 1900 lesson pages and 9 game scenes.

Native video games are just starting to hit the market as a cheaper alternative to traditional immersion, and a painless way to learn language and culture. James Mountain Chief Sanderville is developing a game for Sugpiaq-Alutiiq.

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mathias

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One Response to “Native Language Virtual Reality Soon to Be a Reality”

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