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About the Story
Karin Moller is an American foreign exchange student living in Freiburg im Breisgau and studying computer science and German at the Albert-Ludwigs University . On a free Saturday she decides to take a sightseeing trip to Munich. Before she can depart by train, however, she must first park her bicycle, buy a train ticket, get something to eat and drink, find a book to read, and locate the correct train platform. And what what will she do about the mysterious homeless man that everybody is talking about at the train station?
Cybertext redux: using DGBL to teach L2 vocabulary, reading, and culture
The Ausflug module was used for researching the possible potential of using IF for language learning. The article is accessible through the provided link.
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I personally owe a great debt to interactive fiction. Games like Adventureland, Zork I and The Hobbit helped me build the foundation of the English I know today, and indirectly paved the way for my current occupation as an English teacher.
Ausflug am Wochenende nach München is a rare example of a game that is written explicitly for language training. This is a great idea. IF for foreign language learners can be tailored to suit the difficulty level of the target group, it can have beginner-level puzzles, and it can be directed to contain useful and relevant vocabulary and content.
In some respects, Ausflug is a good effort. It begins with a tutorial to get the player started in the world of interactive fiction. It comes with a German-English glossary and a primer as pdf files. The language is fairly advanced (written for university students), and is naturally linguistically excellent. The theme of the game (getting started on a journey) is also a good choice for the genre.
Unfortunately, Ausflug suffers from the same problem that practically every other previous attempt to write IF for language education does. Plainly speaking, it is boring. There are practically no puzzles at all that are necessary for completing the game. The only puzzles (two that I found, and very simple ones) allow you to find some more money. Which is not necessary, since the money you have from the start is quite enough to last you through the game. Mostly, the game is spent walking around and examining and purchasing things.
On top of that, the game is poorly coded. Even though it was made in Inform, it feels like playing an old AGT game. Too much information is built into room descriptions, and some things do not change state, even though the game progresses as if they should.
As much as I wish this was a good game, I cannot recommend it to anyone. I hope in the future that some people will make a joint venture between a game programmer and a language teacher. Then, perhaps, we can at last have a good game for language learners.
Ausflug am Wochenende nach München on IFDB
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As an English teacher I have sometimes used IF as a tool for language learning. IF is exceptionally well suited for that purpose, except for two things: 1) Most good games use very advanced language, too difficult for non-advanced...
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