Sustaining motivation for Japanese kanji learning: Can digital games help?
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Educational digital games are often presented at Technology in Language Education conferences. The games are entertaining and are backed by research detailing how games can improve the learning experience through active critical learning, learner interaction, competition, challenge, and high learner motivation. The authors, inspired by such presentations, were interested in creating digital games to mitigate problems of demotivation in a beginner Japanese kanji (non-alphabetic script) class at Auckland University of Technology but found there was no body of research on digi-tal games for learning non-alphabetic scripts. This paper contributes to filling this gap by describing the creation of three digital games for kanji learning. Difficulties were experienced during the development of the games and these are described with reference to the divide, discussed in gaming literature, between the type of digital games being showcased at conferences and the reality for teachers wishing to emulate the practice by developing their own digital games. Questionnaire responses and the game-related journal entries of three cohorts of learners were analysed, and teacher reflections on the action research project were used to answer the questions “Should we be leaving this field to the experts?” and “Other than high-end multi-level curriculum-centred digital games, are there different gaming scenarios worth exploring?”