9.03.2007

Educational Games On Wii

With Wii and the Wii Remote, there is simplicity and accessibility. To play Tennis, you simply swing the Wii Remote as a racket; likewise, to play Bowling, you swing the Wii Remote as if you were actually throwing a bowling ball.

As we all know, people of all ages have been playing Wii, whether it be your grandma, or, in some cases, really little kids.



But that got me to thinking. And when I think, it generally means I become obsessed with some fleeting idea that emerges within my skull for but a second.

It all kind of clicked when Go, Diego, Go! popped up on Nick Jr. the other day.



Wii really does have a lot of potential for educational games, and due to the console having a low price-point when compared to Xbox 360 and PS3 (although, when compared to certain SKU's of Xbox 360, isn't that much of a difference), not to mention that the Wii Remote makes games easier and simpler to play, I think it's a perfect fit.

Today then, I give you my concept for Dora the Explorer Wii.



Dora the Explorer, in case you don't know, happens to follow a "7-year-old Latina girl" on her adventures. The program "is highly interactive," and thus, I believe it can translate well into a Wii title.



Unlike most educational games based on franchises such as Dora, I don't want to have separate, detached educational mini-games. No, no, no. I think it would be great if we used either existing episodes of the show, or entirely new ones created just for this title. Around 3-5 (most likely three) episodes would be included on the disk, and they'd be easily selectable from a colorful main menu.

Your cursor would be the mouse that appears periodically to "click" on items to get Dora's attention. This would be the way in which the player interacts with the episodes present on disk.

You see, I don't want the graphics in this game to be anything different than the actual cartoon; no scarily re-creating Dora in 3D like they did with the Rugrats.



Essentially, the game would be an interactive cartoon. Dora would go about her business as she always does during her show, along with her friends the Map and Backpack. In fact, there would be a number of areas where the player has to speak or sing, as done on the show, and thus no using of the Wii Remote is required at these points.

However, the episodes contained on the disk should be ones that do make use of the Wii Remote quite often. There could be points where the player must click on Swiper, or points where the player must help Dora choose the correct item from Backpack, or maybe even points where the player must make motions with the Wii Remote just as Dora and Co. are doing on-screen (rowing a boat, climbing, etc.).

Although the last suggestion may be a bit difficult for younger players, not to mention that the motions required of the player must give a lot of leeway and be built carefully, even perhaps including on-screen instruction if the player is having exceptional problems, they could work really well. If the player is having way too much trouble, then the episode can just continue as if he or she had done it correctly.

At the end of each episode, there can be the credits sequences from the show, which involves finding a character from the show hidden about the on-screen landscape, which players can do by clicking on him or her.

The series' theme song would be in, as well, as it is a staple of the show and it would be quite odd if it was left out. Perhaps the game would allow players to interact with the theme song by clicking on characters, but otherwise, I believe it'd be suitable to simply leave it alone.



Essentially, what this package is is an interactive DVD, but with Wii Remote control functionality and simplicity to make it more interesting and fun for the little guy. As such, I consider its main competition to be DVD's, and so it is for this reason that the game should cost between $20 and $30, with $20 being the goal.

As I said earlier, I frown upon adding educational mini-games to the mix. Mini-games are there to "sweeten the deal," but I suppose they may be permitted in this instance, but only to supplement the episodes. This means that they would not be as detached as they usually are, as they would be related to the episodes included on the disk.

The other additional "mode" I might suggest is an area where the player can interact with Dora and friends by clicking around and exploring, perhaps even engaging in simple activities within the play environment. I feel that this feature would be more interesting and valuable to the package than a couple of educational mini-games.

Finally, I do believe there should be a "Parents" section included on the DVD with pointers and suggestions for parents regarding their kids, this title, other content, and "fun activities' related to the show for them and the kids to do together. Sure, it may advertise other Dora the Explorer content, or perhaps even sister (brother?) shows like Go, Diego, Go!, but hey, the whole game is based on a TV show to begin with, so why not?



Hopefully, this will happen in some form at some point. Wii is continuously gaining steam and support, and it has the potential to be a great educational device. Perhaps after applications of the Wii hardware like this are created, the world may begin to see videogames for the educational tools that they have the potential to be. It has been a wish of Nolan Bushnell since the beginning for videogames to be educational, and I think Wii is a great step forward for educational games. With Big Brain Academy: Wii Degree already available, educational titles on Wii have a long way to go, and with everything from My Word Coach to a Wii adaptation of the popular board-game Cranium coming, I'd say the future looks pretty good.

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