Vocabulary Quest® is a sophisticated online game for learning vocabulary and spelling that should be good for students in about fifth grade and up. The game is also great for adults who want to improve their vocabulary.
This is a lushly designed quest game with warriors, swords, and objectives to attain. However, while the player advances to different levels, the play is essentially the same throughout the game: players win by identifying words and their definitions and by spelling them correctly.
More than 1200 words are included in the game. You can customize those words into your own groups or use the default setup. Even at the easy level, all of the words are not likely to be familiar to students. The publisher says that the included words provide “excellent review for SAT, ACT, and GRE tests.”
Students will tackle groups of five words at a time, working through preliminary activities before they are ready to battle a monster in the arena game. They begin with a flashcard set up to learn the meanings of new words. The flashcards include definitions and example sentences.
Practice exercises that come next are set up sort of like games as students have the option to complete four different types of exercises: multiple choice, matching, a crossword puzzle, and fill in the blanks. Students have to remember the words from their list for the crossword puzzle and for the culminating game. In the culminating battle for each group of words, students are given only definitions and/or synonyms without a word bank, unless they’ve selected the option to include the word bank.
Players can skip any of the preliminary activities and go straight to the game if they are confident they know the meanings of the words and how to spell them. However, if they choose to have the word bank turned off during the battle, they will be unlikely to come up with the correct words based on definitions and synonyms since there are many possibilities for each word. Having just completed the practice activities helps players have the words fresh in their memory.
As players progress, they can join guilds and get special powers and gear.
The game can be customized in many ways. You can choose the appearance of your avatar. You can select the level of difficulty and time allowed for responses. There’s lovely lilting music playing in the background, but it can be turned off. As players progress, they have even more options.
During the battles, hints are available, but they come at a price by lowering your score. The game tracks the student’s progress, and it brings up words for review that were missed previously.
Vocabulary Quest is available either as a digital download or on a CD. The game is available only for Windows systems right now, but a Mac version is in the works. There is a free demo you can download that gives you a good idea of how it works.
I know that many students will prefer this approach for learning vocabulary over a workbook.