Humongous Entertainment — Teaching Children with Storytelling

Does anyone remember Putt-Putt?

I once talked about the effectiveness of educational games, namely The Zoombinis, since that one was surprisingly spectacular, even by standards of educational games. But some adventure games in the past weren’t education games per se but were produced with a young target audience in mind, and I’m talking about ages 6–10, give or take. This isn’t an article about one game, but one company. I don’t know where they are today, but for those who remember them, they’re called Humongous Entertainment. Not a name that stands out because none of their games is made for the same people who enjoy Call of Duty. I know them from the yesteryears when they were still kickin’ with all kinds of point-and-click adventure games. Classic characters that have long disappeared today include Putt-Putt, Freddi Fish, Pajama Sam, Spy Fox, and probably some others not worth mentioning. I don’t know what weight these names have today, but I enjoyed them as a kid.

Point-and-click adventure games are something that doesn’t stand out today. But these were colourful, much more than your regular adventure game. But they were meant for children, and it’s not hard to see why, especially when you compare it to other high-quality adventure games such as Full Throttle. It’s probably because of its target audience that these games eventually fell into obscurity today. But they still hold some educational value…

Teaching English Indirectly

I haven’t heard anyone utter the name “Putt-Putt” in forever, and that means even more when you consider that Putt-Putt hasn’t had an official game since 2003. Aside from today having more emphasis on action-oriented games, the niche that HE was going for was never really meant to be mainstream, and not just Putt-Putt but all the rest as well. Maybe that’s the thing that they were going for. However, what’s more interesting is these games’ potential to assist children’s education. (As is my case).

I must have been somewhere between the ages of 5 to 8 when I was still learning my English. Here I am using Windows 98, playing a game with a purple car or a yellow fish, barely understanding what the hell is going on beyond the colourful cast of characters. As it would be, I enjoyed just seeing the sights of how the characters go about their shenanigans on screen. Although I couldn’t understand a word, I would later understand everything.

Since these games were played mainly by children (which might explain why it’s rarely discussed), it was important not to have a complicated lexicon. This indirect English teaching method somewhat works because I used to play these games a million times over as a kid. The more I played it, the more my English got better. If I’m right, maybe I’m not the only person who did it like this.

It’s simple: Make more!

First of all, it should be evident that there is no problem here. This is a discussion regarding the effectiveness of point-and-click adventure games as educational media, at least those aimed at children. As I said, they work partially, but that’s probably only because it works on kids, who learn faster. I can’t imagine it would work on adults the same way.

That being said, there needs to be more of these. It’s probably something I said before on something else, and that’s because there is never “more of it”, regardless of what I was talking about. In short, this comes down to a lack of interest from the general public, and this is the same general public that burns hours on hours playing Fortnite.

But put aside budgets and target audiences and interest from the public, make one of these games focusing on education. There might just be a way to indirectly help children get better at their English without them even noticing. Where can you find someone interested in making games like these? If you have the answer to that, be sure to tell me because I don’t know where. I have my own projects to worry about, so I’m not making any room in my schedule for whatever kind of adventure game I may or may not be planning until I finish with those. Regardless, it will probably never see the light of day.

Do you remember Putt-Putt?

And not just him, but also Freddie Fish, Pajama Sam, Spy Fox, and others. These guys came from Humongous Entertainment, so remember that because they aren’t remembered today. In any case, be sure to tell your experience with these games if you have any. In addition, be sure to tell what kind of educational adventure games you want to see… if you want to see, that is.

In Conclusion…

All of these games from Humongous Entertainment, and not just the adventure games, are things for me to remember during the good ol’ days, although I can’t say the same for others since I can’t imagine that anyone today remembers them. Regardless, their games were fun, but unfortunately, they have virtually no relevance today. If you’re interested, try one of their games out. Who knows… you might enjoy it.

The idea of an educational adventure game is interesting, but I’m not sure how interesting it has to be to warrant actual production of it. I don’t think anyone is too interested in seeing something like this happen, so maybe when everyone has more time to spare, people would probably consider it, but who knows when that will happen.

I miss Putt-Putt…

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Jeffrey McGee

Jeffrey McGee

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