Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Epistory - A Gorgeous Typing Game for Tweens and Teens


My kids are currently playing Epistory - Typing Chronicles, a beautiful typing game in the style of an RPG adventure. Our approach to screen time is to nudge them towards useful activities for some of the time they are using computers and make sure they do other stuff too. Epistory manages to be fun to play and teaches a really useful skill so it ticks all the boxes.

Epistory isn't designed for children, it can be enjoyed by adults and teenagers. Tweens with a bit of typing experience and plenty of perseverance will also get a lot from the game.

Epistory was released by Fishing Cactus in 2016 and has fantastic graphics and music and is very polished. Epistory absolutely works as a game, it's just one that develops your typing skills as you play it.

Why should young people learn to type?

At school all the focus is on handwriting which I really don't see the point of beyond the basics other than for exams which often still require handwritten papers (this is slowly changing.)

Kids these days need to learn to touch type, that is, type without looking at the keyboard. It's so much more efficient to write essays and other documents on a computer. It's easier to edit work and access to a spell-checker, grammar checker and online dictionary and thesaurus streamlines work. Lots of children find work much more enjoyable when they can use a computer. Who hand writes anything other than a scrawled reminder these days?

Typing is a skill that takes practice. I think it's worth kids learning to touch type at a reasonable speed before they leave primary / elementary school, so around age 11. This will make homework at middle school / secondary school much more bearable and will mean that they can write for pleasure and practical purposes without being slowed down by hunt-and-peck one letter at a time typing. It's also a prereq skill for starting to code using a text-based language.

Epistory Trailer


Playing Epistory - Typing Chronicles

The graphics are in a Japanese papercraft style and really well done. The main character is a girl riding on a three-tailed fox. Epistory has a story which unfolds over a series of chapters of the game. Epistory is very girl-friendly and will appeal to boys too.

All action in the game is controlled with the keyboard. Enemies are defeated and obstacles are removed by typing words on the keyboard. As the game progresses you need to type longer words and type them faster. You also gain powerups and special abilities which keeps the game interesting.

Epistory is a Steam game for PC, Mac and Linux. This means that you need a Steam account and the Steam client. We already use Steam for other games in our house so it was just a matter or purchasing Epistory. But if this is your first Steam game then you'll need to do a bit of set up first.

If you have a high spec laptop then the graphics are even more gorgeous. My son loved putting the graphics up to the highest level on his entry-level gaming laptop.

Epistory isn't suitable for complete beginner typists. We'd recommend trying BBC Dance Mat Typing and Nitro Type first to learn finger placements and keyboard familiarity and speed in a fun way.

My 9-year-old found Epistory slightly too hard but persevered for quite a while because he found it fun whereas my 11-year-old found it just right at the beginning and really enjoyed it, he'll have to improve his typing to make it all the way through though. How do I know? Well the game looked so gorgeous that I had a go myself and ended up playing all the way through (probably about 8-10 hours of gameplay.)

If you can already touch type then the game works really well as just a game and you might just improve your typing anyway. I think I've reduced those sneaky looks at the keyboard after playing Epistory intensively over a few days.

The vocabulary used in the game is pretty advanced but it doesn't actually matter if you know what the words mean. We used it as an opportunity to look up words and find out what they mean. Lots of words appear in a context that gives you a clue to their meaning.

The game doesn't require you to type capital letters or punctuation. I'm hoping that's because there will be an Epistory 2.

I thought the story ending of the game was a bit of a let down which is a shame as the story through the game is really effective.

Verdict

Epistory is a fantastic way to improve typing skills for teens and adults as well as tweens who are willing to put the effort in. If you're concerned about your older kids spending too much time in front of a screen mindlessly consuming content then Epistory is a great compromise. Though my older son wouldn't consider it a compromise at all. 

The game is very easy on the eye and ear too so I'm been very happy for my kids to play this in the same room as me (my tolerance for annoying content is pretty low!)



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