Hello World

September 29, 2017

TLDR; HTML5 game developer blogging about making Japanese language educational games for kids.

Hey, I’m starting a new thing with kids games that combines all my passions. My family, Japan, coding, and helping people learn. I’ll cut to the chase, here’s my side project – making Japanese Hiragana games.

There’s been a heap of occasions I’ve started a blog because that’s what you’re “meant to do”. I never really got why I was supposed to do it, or what I was doing it for, so every single time I started one it was basically sill born, and sat there with two or three posts until I eventually deleted it. However, things have changed. Let me wind back a bit to give you some context.

I make kids educational games as my day job. It’s with a great company full of super smart people making great stuff to help educate kids online. Ironically, we don’t have much of a web presence Blake eLearning.

My lovely wife is Mitra, who makes the world a better place, and we have two sons; Toby in 2nd grade, and Dylan in Kindy. The school they go to is very strong with languages, and Mitra and I had to pick a language for them. We both wanted them to learn Japanese, we’ve travelled there together, love the country and culture, and agree it’s an awesome language for them to study. But homework is a problem we didn’t think about.

If we’d picked a European language it would be easier to get an idea of what their homework was. But as neither Mitra nor I speak Japanese, and the homework is coming home in Japanese, we were in trouble!

The bright side of that is we both wanted to learn Japanese, and it was kind of thrust upon us – which is probably better, as we’re both super busy, so finding time to slot it in was probably never going to happen. So we’re trying to catch up to Toby enough to help him with his homework, and to keep ahead of Dylan so we’re there for him.

Hang in there, we’ve almost caught up!

I noticed about 6 months ago that Toby wasn’t very enthusiastic about his Japanese so, being someone who makes games, I thought it would be fun to make a Japanese themed game with him in it. So I did, Hiragana Ninja (and yes, that’s Toby):

Hiragana Ninja game screen

That got him a bit more interested in learning Hiragana, and I always meant to do more, but, you know… busy busy…

And then recently Mitra and I realised we needed to learn Japanese quickly, so we both got stuck into it. As part of that I wrote a game for associating Hiragana and Romanji, then posted it to Reddit thinking I could later add Hiragana Ninja to the site and have two games going and maybe eventually turn in into something.

It was more popular than I thought it would be and I got some great suggestions for ways to improve it. Then I found out that the domain name I used (hiragananinja.com) was already something cool in the Japanese learning space Hiragana Ninja (Doh! I never thought to check other TLDs, I had assumed that if I got the .com so easily, there would be nothing else using that name. Once I found out, I rebranded it to DrLingua.com, got my good friend Dave to do some wicked art for it, posted the game on a new site, and here we are.

Kana Bento - Japanese Kana game Kana Bento - Japanese Kana Game

All caught up

So, about this blog. I’ve had a “masterplan” in my head for a few years, and never started it. It seems I have now, almost accidentally, started on the path. I can’t reveal any details yet for a few reasons, but I can talk about everything I’m doing, and the tech issues I run into along the way here – mostly as a way to get debrief myself.

This blog will be mostly geeky stuff about HTML kids game development, web dev, JavaScript, React, Gatsby, SEO, and other geeky web stuff. If you’re just interested in the games, there’s nothing here for you. You should go to Dr lingua

So, hello world!

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Written by Adrian Gray making games in Sydney. Find him on Mastodon or Twitter.