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Virtual experience video game turns arcades into classrooms



Konami Corp. aims to lure bookworms into game arcades.

Its bait? The summer debut of a game that tests the player's English skills.

The company's move comes on a wave of popularity of home console video games that involve mental exercises, such as Brain Age for Nintendo Co.'s DS handheld machine.

Konami expects the new game, to be jointly developed with foreign-language school operator Nova Corp., to attract new customers to game arcades.

"Game de Ryugaku!? (Virtual overseas study experience)" consists of 15 English-based games featuring Nova's rabbit-like character Nova Usagi.

Players indicate the correct answer on the machine's touch-screen with a stylus. They can touch words to complete an English idiom or make Nova Usagi's parachute land on the correct answer.

The difficulty will range from junior high school level to questions that could prove to be posers even for native speakers, Konami said.

Players will get promoted to higher grades according to the level of questions solved.

A personal card will be issued that identifies the player so that he or she can continue from the grade achieved on the game last played.

"This is a new genre that can bring in people who do not usually come to game arcades," a Konami official said.

The company is considering developing other educational games for mathematics and kanji.(IHT/Asahi: May 3,2006)
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