A local startup focused on language education through gamification is gaining steam in the fomenting Fargo startup community. Beach Alt Ed, which is currently developing a French-language learning game called The Abettor’s Letters, has announced the launch of a Kickstarter campaign to raise seed funding for their development efforts. We recently sat down with Sarah English and Kyle Weik from the company to learn more about their new venture.
The Abettor’s Letters is the product of producer Sarah English’s experiences with learning numerous foreign languages using multiple software learning systems. Sarah was dissatisfied with the limited engagement provided in existing solutions and thought that there was a better way to immerse learners in an environment where learning a language could be both fun and effective. Thus, The Abettor’s Letters was born — it is a game that will utilize a rich and involving story that challenges users to learn language skills necessary to proceed through the game and to the end of a mystery story.
User experience and interface designer, Kyle Weik, was second to join the team, bringing his unique input on design to the table. Together, Kyle and Sarah came up with numerous unique game functions that are entirely new to the field. As the company explains the Gameplay:
A compelling espionage narrative, interesting characters, a rich world, and a brand new twist on the classic dialogue tree mechanic, all add up to a unique and engaging gameplay experience. Along the way, there will be surprises, puzzles, mini-games, and lots of humor.
Players will have to successfully navigate dialogue interactions with French-speaking characters to progress the game and gather the information they need. Different sections of gameplay challenge the player’s abilities in vocabulary, verb conjugation, sentence construction, and reading and listening comprehension.
Another unique feature of the game is its hand-painted and drawn illustrations, designed in a dream-like, water-color style, the execution of which is the responsibility of artists JoJo Seames and McCal Joy Johnson. Rounding out the team is Andrew Ihla, a professional writer responsible for giving the story arc of Abettor’s Letters a captivating quality that entices users to move forward with their learning.
The Abettor’s Letters was originally conceptualized as a board game in 2009 by English. Sometime in 2011, the idea of creating a computerized (iPad) game came about, and then in September of 2012, English and Weik met and began developing the concept into reality. By early 2013, the creative team was in place and the company began to gather serious momentum.
Currently, the team works on the game in their spare time, outside of full-time work. The hope with their Kickstarter campaign is to obtain sufficient funding for technical development, voice actors, music assets, and related development costs. The current goal for the team is to create one full episode of the game, which will be released to the public free of charge on one or more mobile platforms.
We are looking forward to seeing the Beach Alt Ed team develop their product, continue to grow, and contribute to the emerging startup community in the Red River Valley!
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