reading adventure language special needs


Don’t you open that trap door

Micro User November ‘91

Rog Frost enters the adventurous world of Sellardore

SELLARDORE Tales sits firmly in the adventure game category. What makes this one different is that the language used in the program has been assessed for reading age by the Mugford system at about eight and a quarter. The program claims to have an older interest age, so is aimed at pupils of 10 and above who have reading difficulties.

The problem you must solve centres around a blocked river. A dam must be blown sky high so that water can again flow through Black River Village. In true adventure style, problems are encountered on the journey. A lamp is needed to get through the cave which contains a hungry and obstructive dragon. Water will be needed to cope with a room fire while keys and magic spells all find their uses.

All puzzles are entirely logical and consistent. None are too difficult an can be solved by most youngsters. The route through the program is simple, with no frustrating mazes to delay you. The graphics are good, bold and clear although teachers may select the graphics-free large text version The total map is fairly small with less than 40 locations but most users will find a need to record things as they go along. In short, the program is just what an adventure program should be.

I don't, however, suggest that experienced adventure gamers should rush after Sellardore Tales. It's aimed at youngsters with limited literacy skills and this means that room descriptions are cut to the bone. The puzzles, too, are of a fairly elementary nature and so suitable for the intended audience.

Within my own secondary school, the program has been used by pupils of many ages. Apart from our own appropriate youngsters, visiting primary pupils have experienced the Black River. So too have 16 year old Germans on an exchange. The latter, who have had a massive one hour time allocation, have gained a lot of pleasure from the program and the quickest workers have solved it within the hour Others, who work more slowly, could use the Save Game facility but with a well drawn map this is hardly needed.

As usual with Sherston products, the program is only half the story. The package starts with a reading book pleasingly illustrated - The Curse of Zorin. This introduces the action and stops at a point where the river gets blocked so that the computer game can take over. The discs contain the story as text files which can be loaded into your own wordprocessor and printed in any form The manual contains advice and highlights any possible problems.

Then there are the curriculum support materials. These include Cloze procedures, word searches, crosswords sequencing sheets. There are also creative writing sheets which contain a picture of a scene from the program to act ; a stimulus. All are well thought out and presented.

Summing Up

Archimedes users have a number of advantages over their BBC counterparts although essentially the game is identical. Perhaps best is that the location graphics are ordinary sprites. These can be used in a DTP package when producing extra resources. They can also be modified, using !Paint, to suit particular users. There is something about this program that seems to encourage this kind of experimentation.

Sellardore Tales is highly recommended. It fulfils its own aims but also finds applications across the curriculum. Well done Sherston This is a real grade A product.