It was complete happenstance that I ran across one of the folks from LeftSide RightSide games at ChiTAG this year. It was a polite hallway conversation that ended up being fortuitous for both of us.
As a contributor to G4ED I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting games to write about and David Rheinstrom turned out to be the Editorial Director for LeftSide RightSide. After a brief conversation I knew I had to share this company’s interesting product line to the readers of Games for Educators.
LeftSide RightSide is a new company who does educational games for vocabulary, ESL students and test prep. Their first 2 games are Smarticulation and Word Frolic! Village Idiom 1 and I hear Hit or Myth will be coming out soon.
My favorite of the two, Word Frolic! The Village Idiom 1, is great for ESL students as it “takes the mystery out of metaphors.” All of the cards have a primary question, a very random bonus question and a “Talk of the Town” to get the conversation rolling. The fill-in-the-blank style questions can be played with or without the multiple choice answers and each card explains where the idiom came from which I found quite fascinating.
Smarticulation is a language game focused on improving your ability to express yourself intelligently. The game itself has 4 different types of cards and each card has a primary challenge as well as 3 bonus challenges. The challenges cover Greek and Latin prefixes, famous literary works and characters, grammatical errors, and vocab around root words. The game has lots of crazy topics from David Bowie’s “Major Tom” to Huckleberry Finn to Greek Mythology. The game play for both games is pretty much “can you get these challenges correct?” but it can be played in groups in teams, as individuals or solo and both are rated for 12 and up.
If you’re at all familiar with some of my other articles or reviews I tend to like games that have hidden educational values. The LeftSide RightSide games are very in-your-face educational but what I found so appealing was first that they have really well-made and beautiful boxes. Seriously, I think a car might be able to run over these games and the box would still be intact, which is great news for any classroom game shelf. When I got the games open their use of fun puns and the inclusion of really interesting tidbits on every card impressed me. There are only 40 cards in each box but with all of the bonus questions, conversation and additional information it seems like more.
My absolute favorite thing about this company is their “Chalking Points” video series; they’re AMAZING and posted on YouTube as well as their blog. Thus far they’ve covered the origin of the apostrophe, that versus which, the history of the possessive and apostrophes and plurals – all of which are DULL topics that they somehow made extremely fascinating! Definitely worth a watch.
If you're looking for an expert in the game industry, you're probably looking for Kim Vandenbroucke. Not only does she review games at The Game Aisle, but she also designs them and is one of those people that companies call when they need to have a game designed.