Site URL: PortableWordPlay.edc.org
Content: Wordplay Games is a suite of Web-based games designed to improve the vocabulary and reading comprehension skills of middle-grade students.
Design: Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and based on a Nintendo DSi game, the Wordplay Games look just like a first-rate title for that platform. Graphics are clean and response is quick. Were it not for the addition of academic disciplines into the gameplay, one wouldn’t know that they were specifically designed for the education market.
Review: Wordplay Games consists of two games, Code Invaders and Cipher Force. Originally developed for the Nintendo DSi platform, they support English language arts classes and use vocabulary from the Academic Word List, a collection of words frequently used in academic texts. The Web-based versions make the games more readily and widely available.
The two Wordplay Games are linked conceptually and share a common narrative. In Code Invaders, students are introduced to multiple-meaning words with which they will have to be familiar in order to fulfill their mission in the second game. Contained within an arcade-style digging game are puzzles that ask players to use context clues to understand and differentiate among three definitions of multiple-meaning words.
In the second game, Cipher Force, individual play is targeted toward a shared goal. Success depends on players’ ability to create codes that their teammates will be able to decipher. The game pushes students to think more explicitly about the different meanings words have when used in different settings. Students also put together a set of three images—an “image code”—to communicate a word definition to the other players
Bottom Line: For fun, browser-based academic games that offer practice in language arts concepts, look no further than Wordplay Games.