Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

April 23, 2007

Game Fuses Shakespeare, Technology to Improve Literacy

Reading Shakespeare can be a daunting and even dreaded task for kids. That is, until a University of Guelph English professor added a futuristic spaceship and an outer-space mission into the mix.

Daniel Fischlin has found an innovative way to use Shakespeare’s language to teach literacy skills through a fast-paced computer game called, ’Speare. It was officially launched today on campus and could soon become commonplace in the classroom.

The first of its kind, ’Speare raises the bar on Flash technology and is a pioneer in educational gaming. It was designed to teach students about literacy within a familiar arcade environment, using cutting-edge technology to create a highly interactive educational tool.

“‘Kids love this game, and when we tested it, we found that literacy scores increased by an amazing 72 per cent after just one hour of game play,” said Fishlin, who created the video game with the Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project (CASP) team.

“Imagine the possibilities considering statistics show the average young person spends six hours or more playing video games each week.”

Aimed at students age 10 to 15, ’Speare starts with the player building their own battle ship. Then they are sent out on an outer-space mission to reclaim stolen knowledge spheres, containing the words of Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet. The spheres are needed to restore peace in the galaxy, which players accomplish by stringing together recaptured spheres to form Shakespearean phrases. Players are then scored based on how well they do on the literacy component.

“Gamers are rewarded for making it through all five levels of the game by being linked to an interactive version of Romeo and Juliet,” said Fischlin. “The Interactive Folio is quite simply the most interactive form of the book we were able to imagine.”

To complement these online learning opportunities, CASP has created a new online Learning Commons in consultation with local school boards that will feature learning modules for teachers and students, he said. The Learning Commons is open to everyone and includes lesson plans with specific activities and strategies using ’Speare in the classroom as part of a comprehensive literacy program.

“Our goal is to have ’Speare on every kid’s and parent’s desktop in the country,” Fischlin said.
More information on ’Speare is available on the CASP website. The game can also be played online.

Prof. Daniel Fischlin
School of English and Theatre Studies
519-824-4120, Ext. 53267

Mat Buntin
CASP Project Manager
519-824-4120, Ext. 53230

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, 519-824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Deirdre Healey, Ext. 56982.

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