Educational games have traditionally occupied that strange territory between "don't know" and "don't care." The very phrase evokes an image of a brightly colored box adorned with the image of Dora the Explorer or perhaps, if you're lucky, Bob the Builder. The idea of an educational MMO is one that has eluded me entirely. That is, until we found out NASA may be working on one. But a more general question, and one that's brought up by the blog A Ding World: would MMOs be a good vehicle for teaching players basic grammar and vocabulary in a foreign language?
It's actually sort of an intuitive idea, as A Ding World points out. There are already games out there that have some sort of imbedded language mechanic built into the game. There's the language of the V'rix in Earth & Beyond, or the simple utility of the Logos language in Tabula Rasa. While it's debatable whether most players pay attention to these instructive nuggets within the game, it seems plainly obvious that the work/reward mechanic of an MMO would have some utility that high school Spanish teachers would have a hard time competing with. If studying had the same rewards grinding did, we might all be bi-lingual by now.