Shashingo: Learn Japanese with Photography is an educational video game that teaches Japanese to English-speaking players and uses photography to help make language learning fun.
Shashingo — which comes from the combination of the Japanese words “shashin / 写真”, meaning photograph and the suffix “go / 語” which means language — is being developed by Autumn Pioneer, the business name of Ryan Pocock who is the sole developer for the title.
The came is being made for the PC (via Steam) with the express purpose of teaching Japanese through a gameplay loop that involves photography, a digital scrapbook, and flashcards. The game is fully Japanese voice acted so players can hear how the language is spoken.
The game puts the player in a bright, fictional Japanese city that is filled with details and objects that the player can capture with their camera. Each photo they take will translate the name of the object into Japanese and English to help players learn via their digital surroundings.
One of the most challenging aspects of Japanese for English speakers is the characters. There are three total alphabets in Japanese and Shashingso gameplay demonstrates that it has a method of teaching them to players through an interactive method that ties with a digital photo album.
“Every photo flash-card you take will be unique to you. The idea behind this is to strengthen the relationship between a word and how you see it’s physical appearance,” Pocock says. “In the real world, you can then see such objects and make connections to the Japanese words you’ve already learned while playing Shashingo.”
The photo album is where players will keep a collection of their captured photo flash cards.
“If you remember them well in Recall Mode, they’ll be separated into the ‘mastered’ tab and shown with a gold star sticker. However, if you’re struggling to remember a word in Recall Mode, they’ll be marked with a purple exclamation mark sticker, so you know which words you need to practice more. You can also mark your favorite words & images with a cute little heart sticker to add them to your favorites page.”
The game also integrates more traditional lessons that can help players speak and use Japanese vocabulary.
Pockock says that Shashingo began as his 2021 university thesis project while he was finishing his bachelor’s degree at Cologne Game Lab in Germany. He says that after the initial concept of the game was finished, a positive response from the online gaming community prompted Ryan to continue the development of the project and to make it into a full game.
Shashingo: Learn Japanese with Photography does not currently have a price or release date, but interested players can Wishlist the title on Steam, which greatly helps the developer.