This chapter provides an overview of the potential of massively multiplayer role-playing games (MMORPGs) for foreign language education and discusses how MMORPGs can be better designed to support foreign language education. It reviews current conceptualizations on ideal language learning environments, discusses the potential of MMORPGs for foreign language education, and elaborates on how to design MMORPGs to facilitate foreign language learning. The authors hope that this discussion will help foreign language educators realize and capitalize on the values of MMORPGs in foreign language education, and will guide the design of MMORPGs for foreign language learning.
Towards Optimal Foreign Language Learning Environments
Decades of research in second/foreign language acquisition has yielded guidelines on what an ideal foreign language learning environment should be like. However, challenges abound in materializing these guidelines in current foreign language education contexts.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Virtual World: A computer-simulated world where people inhabit as avatars. It could be two dimensional or three dimensional, and people can interact with each other via text or real-time voice communication via VOIP.
Standalone Game: A game played without connecting to the Internet.
Institutional Server: The server that is dedicated to the use of educational institution. This server is different from a public server in that it has a strict user registration and management system, and is not open to players other than the approved users from the institution.
Immersion: The feeling of “being in the zone” or “the flow experience.” Refers to a status where the players are totally immersed in the game so that they forget about the real world around them.
Learning Management System: The system that manages user learning interventions with a comprehensive suite of functions including user records and reporting, collaborative learning modules, online assessment, provision of online learning, and so forth.
Interactive Object: One of the clickable objects or artifacts in the virtual world. They usually yield information or command upon clicking.
Instrumental Interaction: An interaction that happens solely for the reason of gaining points and advance in the game.
Open Narrative: Game narrative that invites the players to contribute to the game-play. The players are given the freedom to change the economic, social, physical, and political landscapes of the game.