Chapter 6. TBLT and synthetic immersive environments
While previous work has identified a strong connection between tasks and digital games, very little empirical evidence exists to aid in our understanding of how tasks within these complex digital spaces should be designed, implemented, and evaluated so as to optimally support language learning. This chapter synthesizes evidence from 120 hours of in-game behavior data and 30 hours of interview data, collected in a larger study (Sykes 2008), in which 53 advanced learners of Spanish participated in <i>Croquelandia</i>, a synthetic immersive environment (SIE) explicitly designed for learning how to appropriately perform requests and apologies in Spanish. The chapter focuses on quest restarts, a design capability of SIEs that allows a player to repeat a task by resetting the conditions prior to a follow-up attempt. Through the empirical examination of how quest restarts were or were not actualized in participants’ choices while playing the SIE, I will demonstrate that restart elements of in-game tasks for language learning are critical to the successful design of SIEs. My discussion includes attention to designer intentions versus player actualization and a focus on ‘playing to learn’ versus ‘learning to play’ perspectives.