I played it a couple of times. It consists of two main sessions, the story and the language practice. It takes a little while to load the story chapters. But once you enter the chapter, it is really fun. The story is about Trace trying to go back to the future. It is a typical American si-fi story. As it has a 3D visual effect, it appeals to teenagers. It is designed for 12-16 years old. It feels like a simulation video game but it is language learning involved. Players are put in the simulated situations and learn daily English expressions, such as asking for directions. Also, there will be a exam of your understanding and a practice of retelling. For example, after Trace got the new student ID from student union. A girl asked him for the information of getting a new ID. The game is very well made as when you walk around, you can hear other people’s conversations. It gives players a very authentic feeling.
The goal of this game is to learn American English and culture. Daily life courtesy is including in the conversations you have with other characters in the game. In stead of dividing the topics into different categories, it emerges while you complete the game, which is less rigid and more fun. One thing I noticed is that there is always a emotion status after each sentence. It helps players understand how people would react in dialogues. When you act polite and say “Thank you”, people react in a pleasant way.
Vocabulary is built through the game. It comes with a language practice so it is very easy for users to exam how well they learned from the story.
Listening is a major part of the game as we constantly “talk” to different characters without subtitles to get the next clue. There is a repeat button in case you didn’t catch the meaning the first time you hear it.
Grammar is practiced. In the game, you can find different verbs to add to your option list, and later use them to complete certain actions. To complete an actions successfully, users have to choose the right verb and the right object. It is the gamification of multiple choices.
Comprehension skills are also practiced. Unlike reading about it, it is more like experiencing the story by yourself.
After each chapter, there is a corresponding language practice. I really like the form of the test as there are images and audios so it is good for both visual and audio learners. In both the story and language practice there is a score system which I like as it is an indicator of your performance as well as a prompt that gives you motivation.
Basically, Trace Effects enables users to learn and play at the same time with very little assistance from teachers. I can see myself using this game as an after-class activity or homework. Apart from using the language practice, the learning process can be assessed in class by doing a role-play or story retelling.