Arguing for Multilingual Motivation in Web 2.0:Using Alternate Reality Games to Support Language Learning

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Computer games have become an enormous industry over the past two decades and have dramatically changed the leisure activities of adolescents and many adults as well as children. More recently there is a growing appreciation of the potential of computer games as a medium for learning. Such games were initially referred to as edutainment, although this is now a deprecated term and are nowadays referred to as games for learning or serious games. Indeed many people now believe that the games for learning industry is set to make a significant impact over the next decade with a wide variety of educational computer games being developed to support learning. Researchers have examined computer games from many different perspectives, some positive (for example, motivation, engagement, learning, skills development) and some negative (for example, violence, aggression, gender stereotyping). One particular type of game that has not been explored in detail for educational purposes is the Alternate Reality Game (ARG), a form of interactive narrative, often involving multiple media and game elements, to tell a story that may be affected by participants’ ideas or actions. In this paper we describe the use of an ARG to help support the teaching and learning of modern foreign languages by European secondary school children (ages 14-16).