March 13, 2023
Antura and the Letters–an app developed through an All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development (ACR GCD) prize in 2016–is receiving global recognition as a free, open-source smartphone literacy and learning game.
In December, Antura and the Letters won the Special Award for Social Commitment in the German Developer Award 2022. This award was presented by Gaming-Aid e.V. and honors outstanding achievement in the development process. A panel of 12 jurists selected the best 13 computer games of the year from 190 submissions.
Antura and the Letters also received the UNHCR NGO Innovation Award in 2019 for their work in Afghanistan. The award celebrates the achievements of NGOs that develop innovative approaches for delivery of services to refugees.
The app was also shortlisted for the HundrED Global Collection 2023, which recognizes the 100 most impactful innovations in education.
The app was developed by Cologne Game Lab, Video Games Without Borders and Wixel Studios during the EduApp4Syria Prize, which sought the development of smartphone apps to build foundational literacy skills in Arabic and promote psychosocial wellbeing for refugee children in Syria. The prize was funded by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) in cooperation with the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), ACR GCD, mobile operator Orange, and the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE).
Antura and the Letters helps children learn to read in their native languages and discover foreign languages. It uses the properties of play to achieve its pedagogical and psychosocial goals, featuring principles such as stealth learning, flow and player psychological modeling. The narrative context tasks the player with helping an old keeper watch over the living letters, which are represented as wild little creatures. With the help of the keeper’s dog, Antura, the player embarks on a journey through multiple mini games.
Outside of the award recognitions, Antura and the Letters has increased scaling in languages and users. Last year was an important one for the app because it exceeded 300,000 downloads, according to Francesco Cavallari, founder and president of Video Games Without Borders.
The app also received a major update last year. This update supports several languages and can be used both for literacy and learning a foreign language. Video Games Without Borders expanded the scope of the game to support children’s education in Ukraine. Children can learn regional languages like Spanish, Italian, Polish, Romanian, Hungarian, German, French and English.
Antura and the Letters remains committed to supporting children in crisis situations all over the world, says Cavallari. Dari Persian was added to the repertoire of languages in 2022, and Pashto will be available in 2023 to help children in Afghanistan learn to read.
In the future, Antura and the Letters hopes to scale to other languages and regions and guide children on their journey to literacy, Cavallari says
Antura and the Letters can be downloaded for free from Google Play and the App Store.
by Jamie Brian. All Children Reading: A Grand Challenge for Development is a partnership between USAID, World Vision and the Australian Government