Digital Game Based Learning
A growing body of research supports using "good" video games for learning and literacy (see Educators tab).
Digital game-based learning provides a fun, engaging experience that allows learning to occur naturally, not through worksheets or textbooks.
Researchers studying DGBL are from different disciplines including cognitive science, cognitive psychology, neuroscience, education, and educational psychology. Their research is published in peer-reviewed journals and full book format.
Those interested in learning more about DGBL would be wise to begin with James Gee. His website (jamespaulgee.com) is a treasure-trove of published articles on video-games and learning based on his expertise as a linguist and professor of literacy studies.
Indie Game News Recommends Sydney's World:
"As a learning tool, it does its job extremely well, and I applaud its family-friendly approach. Enjoyable and educational, a winning combination!"
"Throughout the game there are many opportunities for extra reading – typically in bookcases found liberally scattered throughout the game world – which often contain allegorical tales or truisms. The result of this is that the game works educationally on many levels, from reading comprehension to vocabulary building to life lessons, but this never feels forced, preachy or promoting a particular ideology – everything is nicely balanced and makes you find answers in your own head, not in the game."
Using Sydney's World as DGBL
According to James Gee, in "good" games, instruction and assessment work in tandem. Learning is demonstrated by completing levels and finishing the game; not by taking tests.
When playing Sydney's World, there is no need to teach! I have taken care of that in the game development. Do not remove immersion by asking questions such as "What does that word mean?".
Digital Game-Based Learning is an instructional method that incorporates educational content or learning principles into video-games with the goal of engaging learners.
Children will pace the learning they are comfortable with. They will want to understand the text. Sometimes they will ask you what words mean, other times they will figure them out with context clues, and still other times they will have no idea.
There is only one thing you should do: make sure they pronounce every word correctly. The rest will take of itself.