'Speare, a game developed by English professor Daniel Fischlin of the University of Guelph, Ontario, was officially launched on Monday.
Intended to teach literacy skills to kids between the ages of 10-15, 'Speare puts players in the role of spacefaring explorers searching the galaxy for bits of stolen information - pieces of Shakespearean plays. As the game progresses, players are also fed information about Shakespeare himself, including historical and cultural facts, and tested on their knowledge as they play.
While educational games are often looked down upon by kids who want "real" games, the developers claim that 'Speare is close enough to a pure game that the learning aspect is almost insidious. "Gamers are swearing that in terms of the level of programming and concept this game is utterly unique," said Fischlin. "It teaches literacy without being overly didactic."
Fischlin, director of the Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project, has reported great early success with 'Speare. In a written statement, he said that literacy scores among children increased by "72 percent after just one hour of gameplay."
William Shakespeare, a playwright and poet, has been described as "a drunken savage with some imagination whose plays please only in London and Canada."
'Speare was almost two years in development, and is the first in a series of "SmartGames" planned by the CASP. Gamers can try an online version of the game, download a demo, or buy the "deluxe" version at the Apollo Games website.