Reviewing GCompris: A Blog Post

Hey guys, today I will be reviewing GCompris – an set of educational games for children! But before I begin my review of GCompris, I would like to share more information regarding GCompris itself, so that you guys will be able to gain a better understanding of what I’m reviewing.

What exactly is GCompris?

GCompris is a software suite comprising educational entertainment software for children aged 2-10. It includes more than 140 activities which help young children pick up basic skills such as recognition of letters and numbers, simple mathematical knowledge, as well as spelling and reading. The content in GCompris is hence designed to both educate and entertain younger children – although some games may appear to be game-oriented, nonetheless they still hold educational value.

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An example of an educational game in GCompris – young users will be able to learn more about colour recognition while having fun.

 

Development History of GCompris

The first version of GCompris was designed in 2000 by Bruno Coudoin, a French software engineer. Since the first release it has been distributed freely on the Internet, and users can adapt the software freely to their own needs. One of the aims of developing GCompris was to provide native educational applications for Linux. Since then, numerous improvements have been made to GCompris, in terms of graphics and number of activities.

 

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Where Can I Download GCompris?

You can find GCompris available for download on the Google Play Store as well as the Apple App Store for mobile devices. If you are planning to download GCompris on a Linux computer, you can download GCompris at their official website:

https://gcompris.net/index-en.html

 

My Review of GCompris

Without further ado, I shall begin reviewing the main features of GCompris. For this particular review, I will be reviewing the mobile version of GCompris (Android). Do also note that I am reviewing the free version of GCompris, and not the paid version.

Upon opening the GCompris application on my smartphone, I noticed that the homescreen of GCompris is very well designed, and I am certain that the design will draw the attention of younger users.

 

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The animal icons arranged in a vertical column to the left of the application appear to be “app drawers” for the games in GCompris. I feel that the animal icons are especially well designed, as they convey the main “subject” of the games they contain. For example, when I saw the panda holding onto two jigsaw pieces, the first thought that went through my mind was that the panda drawer contained games related to puzzles. And indeed, I was right!

However, I also feel that the penguin icon could have a better design, as the penguin drawer contains memory-based games, and the icon does not seem to have much relation to it – in fact, the gears beside the penguin resemble that of a usual “settings” icon. My suggestion would be to replace the gears with a lightbulb, which could be located near the top of the penguin’s head. For example, like the picture below:

 

Image result for lightbulb beside head

 

 

I also feel that the Configuration page of the application could be simplified, especially since children are unlikely to be able to comprehend most of the text on the page. I also feel that the difficulty filter on the Configuration page should be simplified to ‘easy, moderate, difficult, very difficult” instead of using two set of stars – simple/complex stars because most children will not be able to understand what the sets of stars mean.

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Next, I will be trying out some of the games in the various app drawers and commenting on some of them.

The first game I tried out was “Penalty Kick”, located in the cat drawer, which was supposed to train one’s motor-coordination. Firstly,  I was very impressed by the awesome design of the game field – as it made me feel that I was immersed in the game playing myself. However, I feel that instead of tapping to kick the ball, the game should be designed to allow the player to “swipe” in a particular direction in order to kick the ball. This was because I played the game on a smartphone, and it was instinctive for me to swipe in a particular direction to kick the ball. I also believe that allowing the player to swipe the ball in a particular direction would be more beneficial in training their motor-coordination.

Screenshot_2016-12-01-17-12-20.png

 

The next game I played was “Louis Braille”, located in the penguin drawer, which I believed was a more advanced game. I personally loved the utilisation of pictures, as well the interesting concept behind the game. However, I feel that the game might be a little too difficult for younger children, as they may find it challenging to read some of the words, let alone arrange them in sequence. A suggestion would be to simplify some of the more advanced words to simple ones. I hence recommend the game for anyone above 7 years old, but nonetheless, the incorporation of educational facts into “Louis Braille” is highly commendable.

Screenshot_2016-12-01-17-15-34.png

 

My next game was “Renewable Energy” in the pig drawer. This was one of favourite games in GCompris, as I felt that it did a job incorporating learning into a game. Although kids may not really be able to comprehend how the sun is able to provide energy to a electrical generator, the game does an excellent job introducing them to the various energy sources around us.

Screenshot_2016-12-01-17-20-28.png

 

The next game I played was”Balance Box”, in the dragon drawer. Loved the awesome concept behind the game – the player is supposed to control the movement of a ball by tilting his/her phone. Hence, I feel that the game is highly recommendable because it hones users’ motor skills. I also like how the numbers are positioned around the map in order to guide the user into arriving at the door.

Screenshot_2016-12-01-17-26-37.png

 

The second-last game I played was “Assemble the Puzzle” in the panda drawer. I loved how the game introduces famous paintings to children through a unique and fun way, and how there are dots to guide the user into positioning the puzzle pieces.

 

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Lastly, I played the “Tic Tac Toe” game in the frog drawer (both against the computer and a friend). I personally feel that the difficulty of the game could be toned down a little, especially when playing against the AI (He seemed to be able to counter all my moves). I feel that kids may be discouraged when they keep on losing to the AI, and hence the AI’s algorithm should be crafted in such a way that it is not that difficult for kids to win. However, the game still succeeds in introducing the “Tic Tac Toe” concept to younger kids, and allows for a fun game between two human players.

Screenshot_2016-12-01-17-36-41.png

 

With that, I shall sum up my review of GCompris. Personally, I encountered no bugs, nor any major lags when playing the games. In addition, I found some games to be quite entertaining, yet providing an excellent educational experience at the same time. In conclusion, I would highly recommend GCompris to all young children, as I believe that they will all enjoy it as much as I did.

Thank you for reading my review!

 

 

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