Antura and the Letters: A Learning Adventure
An estimated 2.5 million Syrian children have been out of school due to the crisis that has ravaged their home country for years. As refugees move from one location to another in search of respite, children not only miss out on the critical need for structured and formal education but are also subjected to stress and emotional trauma that’s disrupted their ability to learn.
In response to the crisis, the Norwegian government and several global nonprofit partners started the EduApp4Syria competition in January of 2016 as a challenge to activists, experts, and gamers alike to create educational games that aim to help war-affected Syrian refugees. And thus, Antura and the Letters was born.
Developed by a consortium including the Cologne Game Lab, Antura and the Letters works to increase literacy amongst Syrian children while also improving their psychosocial well-being. Focusing on a cute, animated wild dog, Antura and the Letters hosts several dozen mini-games that allow children of all ages to learn Arabic at their own pace, first starting off by teaching letters before moving on to basic words and eventually phrases and advanced vocabulary.
The game, through features like personalizing the main character, aims to create a feeling of ownership and attachment in the children who play it to further shape positive attitudes and behaviors. It also serves as a light-hearted and fun emotional outlet for children who have suffered deep trauma and stress.
One of the key components of what makes Antura so special is that it is able to utilize the one ubiquitous piece of technology refugees hold near and dear to them, a cell phone, without requiring wifi which can often be scarce in refugee camps. And with the impressive impact that the game has had on literacy, it is clear that the increasing number of refugee children worldwide can benefit endlessly from Antura.
“Even though we hope that in 5 to 8 years Antura will exist in many languages,” says Dr. Emmanuel Guardiola, Game Director and an expert in game design methodology, “Our core goal is still to focus on crisis areas or countries where educational infrastructures are weak so we can address those flaws.”