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3 Video Games that Help Improve Reading Comprehension Skills in Ontario Students

Updated: May 3, 2023


Image Source: Store.steampowered.com Screenshot taken from Ori and the Blind Forest, Moon Studios GmbH, 2015


Does your child struggle with reading comprehension? If they do, they’re not alone – in fact, according to a recent study, approximately 28.1% of Ontario students possess inadequate reading and comprehension skills.[1] So, what can you do to help your child improve and hone these skills? Although the answer of video games may surprise you, they are an engaging, hands-on (and highly underrated) way for students to advance their literacy skills. So today, we’ve compiled a list of 3 video games that help improve reading comprehension skills in Ontario students for your kids to try out.



Image source: Geardiary.com Screenshot of Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3DS, Nintendo, 2011


1. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3DS


The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3DS is an action-adventure game that follows the hero, Link, on a quest through the land of Hyrule to stop Ganondorf, King of the Gerudo tribe. One reason it’s so exceptional in helping students develop their reading comprehension skills is that the game doesn’t have full voice acting for the characters. Instead, the story, signs, dialogues, maps, notes, letters, etc., are all told through text which forces students to read and understand the information in order to progress throughout the game.[2] They are aided by a fairy guide named Navi which helps them maneuver through the quest when they get stuck; however, for the most part, it’s up to the player to read, comprehend, and then make decisions based on the information being provided, which ultimately helps bolster not only reading comprehension but other critical competencies such as communication and decision-making skills.


Image Source: Store.steampowered.com Screenshot taken from Ori and the Blind Forest, Moon Studios GmbH, 2015


2. Ori and the Blind Forest


Ori and the Blind Forest is another action-adventure game that follows an unlikely hero, Ori, on his journey to restore the forest of Nibel, where he was raised by a creature named Naru. The game emphasizes exploration, collection, and progression, and similar to Ocarina of Time, you have a guide, in this case, a small orb named Sein, to help guide you throughout the adventure. However, something that really stands out when you play Ori and the Blind Forest is the highly immersive quality it’s able to achieve for its players. This story is told in a way that is so unobtrusive to the gameplay that it lends to an unprecedented sense of ambiance as you learn what ails the forest around you – there’s no constant barrage of cut scenes, but rather, you enjoy writing across the sky that feeds you bits of the story as you progress.[3] This immersive storytelling quality of Ori and the Blind Forest helps players foster their reading comprehension skills by not only evoking emotion throughout the game but allowing them to explore the narrative at their own pace.


Image Source: Store.steampowered.com Screenshot taken from Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna), Upper One Game and E-Line Media, 2014


3. Never Alone (Kisima Ingitchuna)


Never Alone is a puzzle-platform adventure video game that retells the traditional Iñupiat Alaskan Tale “Kunuuksaayuka” while also highlighting the rich heritage and culture of the Iñupiat Native Alaskan people. Following an Iñupiaq girl, Nuna, and her Arctic fox, the story is told in the form of an oral tale and rewards players with collectible ‘cultural insights’ which come as video vignettes of Iñupiaq elders, storytellers, and community members sharing their stories.[4] Similar to the other two games, you need to be able to understand and integrate the new knowledge you gain in order to progress through the storyline properly. However, the defining factor of Never Alone comes in the richness, beauty, and depth of the storytelling that makes players feel like they are physically inside the game learning how to hunt or how to play the ceremonial drums. Ultimately, for students struggling with literacy competency (and especially those interested in Indigenous histories), Never Alone allows students to ‘get in the driver’s seat’ while improving their reading comprehension skills and learning about foreign cultures and traditions.





Final Thoughts


Even though many parents consider video games to be a time-consuming mind-suck for their children, we’re here to set the record straight. Video games can be beneficial for many reasons, such as for fostering reading comprehension, as we explored here, but also for improving communication, critical thinking, and decision-making skills. Games like Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3DS, Ori and the Blind Forest, and Never Alone are great for engaging your child and immersing them within a storyline so that it doesn’t feel like traditional reading homework where they’re forced to sit and read line after line (although that’s in essence what’s happening when they play these games). So, as a result, we want to challenge you to change your ingrained way of thinking about video games and to allow your child to explore and enhance their reading comprehension skills by picking up that controller and going on an adventure all their own.


For more information about how to use video games to gamify your child’s learning or to inquire about working with us at Knowledge Bump, contact our team today at www.knowledgebump.ca.


References


1. “Students With Inadequate Reading Skills.” The Conference Board of Canada,

2. Hartzman, Zachary. “What I Learned from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.”

Hey Listen Games,

January 2020, https://rb.gy/4n2g1

3. Romero, Ishmael. “Ori and the Blind Forest Review.” Twinfinite, March 2015,

4. “Never Alone.” E-Line Media, http://neveralonegame.com/game/. Accessed April 18,

2023.

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