A virtual game to teach children languages

The star video game developer behind Age of Empires has turned his gaming talents to something new: teaching children languages, reports The New York Times. Wiz World Online, developed by 8D World, a start-up based in Shanghai, China, and Woburn, Mass., was built by Rick Goodman, who developed the popular games Age of Empires and Empire Earth. In his latest virtual world, instead of re-enacting historical battles, Chinese children can learn English. Alex Wang, the company’s chief executive and co-founder, said the idea grew out of his personal experience landing at the San Francisco airport on his first visit from China, 21 years ago, when he was in his 20s. Though he had studied English for years and scored well on the written part of the GRE test, he discovered that he could not read the McDonald’s menu in the airport, nor could he converse with the server. Alhough he was hungry, "I was never in that kind of conversation before, and I ended up with a jumbo Coca-Cola with tons of ice," he recalled.

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