TMI launches Cherokee language video game

BY TESINA JACKSON
Former Reporter
03/27/2013 08:25 AM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
An interactive screenshot of Thornton Media Inc.’s “Talking Games” at www.kickstarter.com. The game gives players the chance to learn the Cherokee language while playing a video game. KICKSTARTER WEBSITE
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Thornton Media Inc. has developed a new 3-D video game designed to help revitalize the Cherokee language. Formerly called “RezWorld,” the newly named “Talking Games” gives players the chance to learn Cherokee while playing a video game.

“In some ways it’s a regular role-playing 3-D video game, but in this game, it’s equipped with an automated speech recognizer with the target language and you have certain goals that you have to meet at every level,” TMI President and CEO Don Thornton said.

Founded in 1995, TMI has created custom language tools for more than 170 American Indian tribes and Canadian First Nations. It relocated from southern California to Las Vegas in 2010 and is the only high-tech language learning company in the world devoted to the accelerated and better learning of all languages as well as the revitalization of indigenous tongues.

Thornton, a Cherokee Nation citizen, said Cherokee was his mother’s first language and he felt it was important to promote that language and honor his family.

In the game, the player is the main character who must speak Cherokee with other characters to reach game objectives.

“You’re actual goal is to learn the language, but you have questions and trainings that help you to learn the language,” Thornton said.

The game’s plot involves the main character losing his memory and the ability to speak his language after being involved in a car accident. His friends and family, who do not speak or understand English, have to help the character regain his language.

“There are also other characters like Big Foot, and you may have to fight a ninja and zombies,” Thornton said.

Not only is “Talking Games” available in the Cherokee language, but also in Spanish. Thornton said he hopes to create more videos with different languages.

“It’s actually an attempt to create a mass market product that would compete with major language tools that are out there for all languages,” he said.

To raise funds to continue producing the game in Cherokee and Spanish, the Cherokee version of “Talking Games” is available on www.kickstarter.com where people can view the video for 32 days starting March 11. The company’s goal is to raise $350,000.

“If we raise that, that will build two games. One for Cherokee and one for Spanish,” Thornton said. “If we don’t raise the money then everyone gets their money back. It’s actually an all-or-nothing thing. Either we raise the money and go forward or we get nothing.”

If TMI raises the funds, the game will be distributed on the Internet. To view the game, visit http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/783297741/talking-games-play-a-video-game-learn-a-new-langua?ref=email.

TMI has also created an app available for iPads called “Cherokee Baby Flashcards,” which is available in iTunes for $2.99 and will soon be available for iPhones. Thornton said the app contains reading, speaking and listening quizzes at easy, medium and hard levels.

tesina-jackson@cherokee.org


918-453-5000, ext. 6139

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