Article Archive

My Word Coach

Author: Darryn King
Friday, 14 December 2007


We all know them. Well meaning parents who buy educational video games for their hapless offspring. Nintendo obviously have the aspiring intellectual market cornered, with their titles Big Brain Academy, Brain Age, Brain Buster, Left Brain, Right Brain and other games with the word ‘brain’ in. While I wouldn’t recommend this particular title over Mario Galaxy for a Christmas present – my God that would be depressing – Ubisoft’s My Word Coach does what it does well.

Provided you play the game at least semi-regularly, what My Brain Coach does is train you to increase your vocabulary and harness the full, awesome power of the English language. You know what you’re getting (and not getting) with a game like this: there’ll be no explosions, no plot twists, and no contrived appearance of busty Krystal from Big Brother. But, if you stick with it, you’ll be sure to get results. Even if the results include getting punched in the face for calling someone ‘lugubrious’.

Don’t get cocky either. Even if you know the word ‘lugubrious’, it’s a pretty fair bet there’ll be plenty of the game’s 17,000 words you don’t know.

Developed with the help of a team of linguists, My Word Coach consists of a bunch of mini-games, each with their own spin on vocabulary training, with the emphasis alternating from recognising correct definitions to spelling. One mini-game, for example, will have you picking the correct definition for a word out of a possible two by tilting your Wiimote the right way. Another game will simply present to you a word with a letter missing, and leave you to draw the omitted letter (a bit clumsy on the Wii, but made perfect with the DS connectivity and a trusty stylus).

You wouldn’t call this sort of thing revolutionary gameplay but, with the Wii’s motion sensing technology, it’s far superior to sitting an exam, or any comparable tutorial software, and probably a nice distraction from your average shoot ’em up. It’s also good to see that the game’s one-player mode is just as enjoyable and effective as the multi-player mode, a pitfall of similar edutainment titles.

As for the game’s claim that it will have you learning up to five new words every day, you’ll have to put some time in for any lasting effect, but judging by the Junkmail that 3D World gets I’d say it was worth it. More than just strengthening your vocabulary, I also suspect regular sessions in front of My Word Coach are just plain good stimulation for your brain, and that can only be a good thing.

Hmm. According to the Expression Potential scoring system, apparently I haven’t even got the vocabulary of an Editor yet…