Watertown couple creates language tutorial video game
WICKED LOCAL STAFF PHOTO BY KEITH E. JACOBSON
Peter and Ulrike Rettig are creating a new system for people to learn languages. Their on linesite will be interactive for learning. Their company GamesforLanguage is based in Watertown.
By Laura Paine / Staff Writer
Wicked Local WatertownPosted Mar 13, 2011 @ 08:00 AMWATERTOWN — Before you take that flight to Paris, Watertown residents Peter and Ulrike Rettighave a computer game to help you learn the lingua franca.The Rettigs are the creators of Games For Language, an interactive website that teaches the basics of foreign languages through story telling and games that allow the player to hear, repeat and say new wordsand phrases.“I have always been looking for language related projects,” Ulrike Rettig told the Watertown TAB.“Peter was an engineer with tremendous language skills. He was always interested in what I was doing sowe thought we could do it together.”The Rettigs created Games for Language after brainstorming with their son Pascal and his wife, whoown the software development firm Cykod and content management service Webiva.com. Together theywere able to design and create the actual games while Peter and Ulrike Rettig wrote the scripts andrecorded the voices for each level.Ulrike Rettig, a native of Austria, has a PhD in Germanic Languages and Literatures and worked for self-teaching audio courses developer as the writer for German and Dutch programs and editor for severalother languages. Peter Rettig, a German native, has two degrees in engineering and developed an interestin languages while working in Switzerland. He calls the website their “senior project” and said that theFrench and German free demos are just the beginning.“We anticipate over the next few months and years we will develop other games and we already haveideas for five or six different games, which will substitute the ones we have right now as level of language increases,” Peter Rettig said. “We think the languages not only good to know but it is also agood thing to keep the brain in shape, especially as you get older.”Each level tells a story of a person traveling to their native country. As the character begins his trip,his first experience with speaking the foreign language takes place on the plane when the stewardess asksif he’d like something to drink, something Ulrike Rettig said is standard in real-life travel.“The travel idea is an adventure that really captures your imagination,” she said. “You can fantasizeabout it even if you are not able to travel. We were thinking of going to Barcelona next year and I’malready thinking about it and envisioning where to go, what to do, what it feels like.”Each level teaches players how to read, speak and understand the language through repetition, inaddition to guessing what someone is saying based on prior knowledge, despite not knowing all of thewords.Peter Rettig said that when traveling in Europe, everyone speaks at least one other language and thecultural currency is different depending on where you are.“It’s not just the language but what goes with it,” he said. “Humor for example, there are differenttypes of humor for different languages. You even see it here, Southern humor is quite different fromYankee humor.”Ulrike Rettig said that while English is important for communicating, you can’t get by just speakingEnglish.“The world is shrinking,” she said. “I think knowing one other language already puts you outside of your own box of thinking just one way. You start thinking in different ways and start empathizing withanother point of view with another culture and I think that’s really important.”The Rettigs expect to have a Spanish demo up soon and full, pay-to-play versions of the games toreplace the demos up in the next two to three months.1