Monthly Archives: July 2011

Get ya gaming mojo back

  1. Did you ever play computer games as a kid?
  2. Is there a game you remember that you always used to play?
  3. Would you like to play it again?

If your answer to any of these questions was ‘Yes’ then why not play it again?  Maybe you can’t.  Either you or your parents sold on your console or simply at some point it broke and never got replaced, became obsolete or you just moved on.  Nowadays, though, you don’t need to dust off an old piece of electronics from the attic or scour ebay to relive those digital days gone by.  Use an online emulator.  Here is a list of a few online emulators that allow you to play those games from years ago:


Screen shot 2010-04-22 at 1.36.14 PM

1 ZX Spectrum

If you owned a spectrum in the 80s or 90s then this is the site for you. This site has a listing of spectrum games through the golden years from 1982 to the mid 90s. What’s great about this site? Well if the errrr-eek sound of a loading spectrum game cassette holds a lot of nostalgia for you I’m afraid this site has got rid of that. However, if you get misty eyed at the mention of Manic miner or Elite then both these games and more can be played online and for free. Get playing now!

2 AtariScreen shot 2010-04-22 at 1.42.50 PM

Remember those clunky cartridges you had to shove in the machine at the top? Well, whether it was the Atari arcade games or one of the home cartridge games that you used to play then one of these sites is for you. Do you remember staring at awe at the amazing graphics? Well goggle no more if you’ve played any game from this decade.

Screen shot 2010-04-22 at 1.45.18 PM3 Commodore 64

I only knew one kid with a commodore 64 at school which may say something about the PC system or not. Nevertheless, I got the impression that Commodore owners were very much a minority. No doubt this debate is continued by our young learners with the xbox versus playstation debate. What’s the commodore equivalent then? If you had this system or would just like to see what all this fuss is about then play one of their games and get misty eyed with ‘paperboy’ or ‘ghosts and goblins’.

4 AppleScreen shot 2010-04-22 at 2.02.55 PM

Apple design has certainly got sexier over the years. Anyone remember this little number? Possibly not but for those of you that do then why not play a few of their old timey games on the virtual apple site.  Can anyone spot the similarities between this (picture on the right) and the new ipods and ipads? I don’t!

Screen shot 2010-04-22 at 2.02.24 PM5 80s 90s arcade games

Maybe you spent a lot of your misspent childhood playing or hanging around game arcades. I know john Connor in Terminator II did. Maybe you played Missile Command or After Burner like he did in the film. If you didn’t and another title was the joystick/roller ball of your choice then check out this 80s arcade game site – it lets you play your favourite 80s arcade game.

6 GameboyScreen shot 2010-04-22 at 3.23.54 PM

Over 20 years old now and superceeded by a whole generation of different handheld gaming platforms. Still, at one time you may have been that kid on the bus/train/ waiting room/ playground (delete as appropriate) and may want to see some of those Gameboy games again. You may have to configure the keys before you ‘Load ROM’ (the game you want) but I’m sure it’ll be worth that little inconvenience.

Now you have to ask yourself:

  • What would your learners think of you playing these games?
  • What would they think of the games themselves?
  • How do they differ to games nowadays?
  • What do they think of the look of the hardware itself?
  • Can they name 6 differences between the consoles and games of then and now?
  • How have the specifications changed?
  • How has gaming changed for them over the years?

Xtranormal Movie Maker

Level: All

Location: Computer room

Language Focus: Any

Game: Xtranormal

Xtranormal is a text to speech movie maker that’s free and easy to join.  It might be a bit heavy to run but it’s a definite hit with learners.

On the right here you can see a screen shot of the movie maker editor. The instructions are at the top followed by the set, actor, sound and story folders.  The story folder is where all language production begins.

The Story

Simply click on an actor and start writing what you want them to say in the text box.  Once you’ve finished switch to the next actor.

For fast finishers there are the effects running down the left hand side.  Why not customize your movie to:

  • Change the camera angle during shots.
  • Get the actors to perform actions.
  • Get the actors to point to objects.
  • Get the actors to make some facial expressions.

. . . and more.

At any time you can hear how Xtranormal converts the text that has been written to speech.  It may not be the most authentic sounding speech but it serves the purpose.

The free account is more limited than the options open to those that pay but the free account does offer a good range of sets, actors, sounds and stories. If you did decide to go pro and get the better upgraded options then its worth bearing in mind that learners on multiple computers can access, work and save on a single account  – at least they can on the free one.

Why not watch an example of two actors discussing how an Xtranormal movie can be used with a class.  That way you can judge for yourself if you think its worth turning your language learners into movie makers.

Level: I’ve used this site with language learners as young as 8 to adults.  You just have to make sure the activity task is appropriate and to their level.

Language focus: The first time I use this with learners I generally just let them get on with it.  As I monitor I’ll help on correction, input language and ask them about the direction they are moving in.  Then, in later classes I like to return and get learners to open their movie projects and expand on the text using recent language we’ve covered in class.  This generally means the final product contains a range and complexity of language that they can be proud of.

If learners feel inspired enough to start a new project this is also fine but I always encourage them to review some of the language we’ve done over the course and encourage them to recycle it.

Have fun and maybe see your language learners at the oscars one day.