Hapland- IELTS and Video Games – Reading Instructions

Hapland is a very frustrating flash game. http://foon.uk/farcade/hapland/

Read the instructions below to complete it.

If you like video games, walkthroughs are great way to practise reading. Following complex instructions to complete a task will give you some INTERESTING reading practice.


Basically the idea of the game is to get the little man to safety byclicking on different parts of the picture in the right order.


a)    Open all the windows and turn the red arrow around.

b)    Open the hatch on the right, click the yellow arrow to get a man out.

c)     Click on the man to fire one round in the low position to drop the bridge down.

d)    Click the cannon to move it up. Fire the second round up at the bell and click the spear thing so it goes the other way JUST after the round hits the bell

e)    Fire the next two rounds at the bridge, but click the bridge to as they hit it to knock them in the air and explode without causing damage.

f)      Click the light bulb a few times next to the man at the bottom to get him to smash it.

g)    Fire the last round in the low position, and the bottom man will pick it up and open the door with it.

h)    Now click the man by the machine so he gets in it, and click the yellow arrow to get another guy out, get him to fire the other man up at the bell.

i)      The man by the bell will move the tower over if you click him. Then click the spear thing. Now keep clicking the bell till it falls. No more land mine.

j)        Click the door in the bottom left so the man comes out and JUST as he goes in the door on the right, click the man at the bottom. A dog tries to chase him, but the falling concrete stops it.

k)      You did it!

For more of the same check out Richard L King’s great book below




Do video games have a responsibilty to educate?

Way back in 1922, when television was a brand new invention, the fresh British Broadcasting Corporation or BBC as we know it, decided its mission would be to  ‘inform, educate and entertain’ . Granted, the world was a different place and the power of the media was only just beginning to be realised but it was the spirit of modernity and a desire to use technology for the greater good that forced the BBC to put such a maxim in place. They felt that it was part of their job, with such massive power, to try and teach people something good.

If only modern video games felt like they had to do the same.

Serious films and books have always needed to ask bigger questions than just their story, and have challenged the status quo or tried to understand or change people’s belief systems. Cinema continues to confront racism, sexism and notions of what is right and wrong. Could you imagine video games doing this? Why not? How does Halo 2 stand up to a film like Schindler’s List?

Today, video games outsell movies and that includes trips to the cinema – click here for the Telepgraph article. That means that sales of titles for the playstation, Wii and the Xbox 360 might be becoming the most powerful cultural phenomenon on the planet, especially for those under thirty. As one of my young gamer students said  – ‘I don’t watch films.. because I’m not in control of the action’.

Part of the problem is that video games aren’t taken seriously enough by the media or by the general public. Some people just don’t admit to liking video games because they might be geeky or in some way childish – not at all serious and highbrow like books or cinema. Why not?

Truth is, games do already educate us and our children in more ways than we might imagine. Mark Prensky, James Paul Gee and other academics claim that playing computer games help people to learn. I know the ancient peoples of the world from playing Civilization and learned about ancient Japan through ‘Total War. but in a similar way I know lots of irrelevant stuff from playing games, like the fact that you need a silver weapon to fight a ghost in Oblivion. What if video games had tried to teach me something that might be helpful?

Video games do have a responsibilty to their players and they ought to be able to challenge opinions as well as reflex action. This is changing though games like  Heavy Rain, it’s is an emotional thriller that sees players take part in a story as they have never done before – and is getting closer to the cinematic experience. However, it doesn’t go far enough.

Here are the video games I’d like to see. Bringing up a teenage boy in a north London estate – when he gets arrested the game ends and then the sequel, bringing up a teenage kid in a South African township – only this time the game ends when he dies. How about a third person adventure where you play a busy doctor in an NHS hospital dealing with patients and getting points when they live or die, and then the sequel, exactly the same – but in India. Here’s a good one, a sort of Grand Theft Auto style game but set in Iran and rather than mafia style activities you get  involved distributing illegal rock and roll music and pro democracy leaflets while avoiding the religious police. Prison guard in Congo?  Prison guard in Guantanamo Bay?

Truth is, gamers probably don’t want to have to be faced with these kinds of difficult decisions. The beauty of a film or a book is that you don’t have to choose what happens or decide if it’s right or wrong to do something, it just happens and you don’t have to be part of it. There’s a big difference in watching a character shoot another character and you actually having to shoot someone in a video game.

At the end of one of the first Spiderman movie, Spidey repeats the line his uncle told him earlier on in the film – ‘With great power comes great responsibility.’ If only it were true in the video game industry.

Using a PSP to teach English – Flash Games

Putting Flash Games onto the PSP

To get flash games onto a PSP you need to somehow rip the .swf files from the websites that host the games. I used firefox to download the games and capture the them. More gifted and tecnically minded wizards explain this better than I can here http://www.lancelhoff.com/how-to-download-embedded-swf-files-using-firefox/

Using Flash Games on the PSP

Although playing flash games is a lot of fun (depending on the game of course); exploiting them for language learning is more difficult. I’ve blogged about using them before, but for really creative ways of using flash games in the classroom look no further than Digital Play http://digitalplay.info/blog/ where there are ideas on using individual games and wider links to education through video games. Digital Play has had  a real influence on my ideas and teaching.

The Lesson

I used this lesson with a group of intermediate students from various parts of the world.  Students were given one PSP between two and each PSP had a flash game pre-loaded onto the memory card ‘Who killed Angela Spelling?’ from the fantastic www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise

Students had to play the flash game together and fill in the worksheet which I also downloaded and printed off one between two – you can download it here

So, why not use a normal computer or laptop to do this activity?

– With a bunch of PSPs you can do these activities without an expensive IT suite.  Just pass out the PSPs and you can start.

– Students really focused in on their PSP and becaue they had to work together to see the tiny screen, it helped them work together on completing the tasks.

Problems and pains in the neck.

– Putting the same file onto twelve PSP memory cards is a hassle. Charging them up is even worse. This lesson took too long to think about for  simple  flash game.

Blocks with Letters – Simple Flash game for IELTS / ESOL / ESL

Here’s a great game written by Martin Sears that really gets your brain working.

It’s a simple game that hinges on moving blocks around the screen and making sure that words are spelled correctly.  I’m not sure I’d use this game with a class , but I might set it for homework and ask students how the got on in the next session. Although the words are quite simple to start with, they get tougher so I’d suggest using this with at least a pre-intermediate / Entry 3 / B1 class.

You might like to pre teach your students some of the vocab needed


Reset (very important – you can put things back to the way they were at the start if things go wrong)


Gimme a hint ( it should of course be ‘give me’)

Play the game by clicking here or the picture above.

Let me know how you get on.

Low Level English – Flash Games for ESOL

…just discovered a wonderful site for low level ESOL and ESL learners, you need an Interactive Whiteboard or a projector.


Loads of different vocabulary games and presentations aimed at low level learners.

Flash Games for ESOl / EFL / IELTS – Just a bit of fun

Desktop Defence

Click here to play Desktop Defence. Defence games involve you building towers to defeat hordes of enemies. This one is quick, easy to learn and difficult to master. Desktop Defence is easily the best out there. Say goodbye to break time.

Fancy Pants 1 and 2

Click here to play Fancy Pants 2 This is a well animated and very simple platform game with added depth for more serious gamers. It’s got a great feel to it and the humour is nice. Try Fancy Pants 1 as well…

Flash Tennis

Click here to play Flash Tennis. Simple and yet demanding, this is a quality tennis game. With after hit control on the ball and a tight serving regime needed this quickly become maddeningly addictive.

Dino Run

Click here to play Dino Run Stylish retro gaming, guide your dinosaur at top speed in front of the crashing boulder of extintion. Fast and engaging, the multi-player option lets you race other gamers from around the globe. Simple and fantastic.

Dolphin Olymipcs 2

Click here to play Dolphin Olympics 2 Swimming around as a dolphin and performing tricks to earn points seems fairly amusing, but if you get really good at this game then you can get much further. Pointless, engaging fun.

Educational games- are they any good? Case #1 – 1066

1066 Flash Game developed by Preloaded and Channel 4

1066 by Preloaded and Channel 4










Click here to play the game

The term ‘educational game’ is a bit of an oxymoron – like a fat thin man riding a big small motorbike.  Games that promote learning can sometimes be more boring that actually just learning. Hopefully though, things are changing.

Here’s a great example of what simple flash games can do on the most basic browser. 1066 is made by Preloaded and developed with the help of Channel 4 in line with the show The Battle for Middle Earth that aired in May 2009.  2 million people watched the show and there are rumoured to be 3 and a half million people who have played the game.

What strikes you first is just how well made this is with wonderful voice acting and smooth animation. You play by re-enacting the brutal battles of 1066 as either The English, The Normans or the Vikings. There’s a kind of movie to introduce you to the actual history of the what happened but it quickly cuts to the game. You take charge of one army and move blocks of troops around in turn based action, firing arrows and moving into position before getting stuck into the actual fighting.  It’s terribly bloody with a great feel to it, there are also touches of humour – taunting the enemy sees you screaming ‘pig filth’ or ‘fox beard’ at the enemy.

So, is it educational? That’s a difficult question. It’s a really nice game to play, that’s for sure, a bit like a simpler version of Total War. The bloodsplats on the screen, the noise of sword against sword and the stratergy needed adds up to an entertaining experience. But did I learn about 1066 and history? I took Bruce London’s 15 question 1066 history quiz to find out.

Well, I learned that 3 English kings died that year and that the Viking leader was Harald Haadrada and got these questions correct but that was pretty much as far as I got. Wouldn’t I have learned these things had I just read a book or sat in a history class?

The Battle of Hastings and 1066 is a pretty easy educational topic for a game to cover – it’s got fighting in it, and vikings and people shouting at each other, but how would a game for say, explaining healthy eating or quadratic equations work? Would it be as easy to make these into games?

1066 is a great game, but more than that it’s a great start to the way games should be able to capture people’s imagination and engage them with the subject. It would probably be pretty easy to make an engaging healthy eating game, you could follow the fortunes of a football player or an athlete and decide what they eat, or a doctor examining the damage done to different parts of the body from eating the wrong stuff. Quadratics – I’m still thinking.

As the prospect of ‘cloud or streaming  gaming’ draws closer, more and more powerful games are going to be avaliable to more and more people, games will play a bigger part in our lives and education. How we use them in the classroom will need to be thought about more clearly, but this is a great start.


Fire at will

Fire at will