Renpy: Rapid Development for Interactive Roleplay / Avatar based learning with the XO

Mike Dawson mikeofmanchester at
Wed Nov 11 15:18:56 EST 2009

Hi All,

Sometime ago we had the idea to try and create skill trainers using
interactive roleplay on the XO - recently discovered Renpy as a really
excellent tool for doing this. One can make an engaging audio, video
and dialogue experience very quickly using Renpy's scripting language,
and where that's not enough, you can just add python code.  There are
a fair few gotcha's to it but I have documented most of this on the

The thing about roleplay which is beautiful is it gives a risk free
way to experiment and learn about key skills in a way that can really
relate back to real life.  It's not just an experience of individuals
either; I remember having fun playing Monkey Island and other such

We are thinking to make:

1. Children's health guides to day to day issues in life (brushing
teeth, toilet hygiene, etc)

2. Soft skill trainers - could help others in the house (parents /
elder siblings as well) - job interview trainer, etc whilst not
loosing focus from the younger children.

3. Household Hygiene / Health advisor - a virtual doctor guided tour
through the house to address hygiene problems.  Rote learning
unfortunately largely destroys people's capacity to act on information
consumed - people are used to either consumption (memorization) or
interacting with people.  We will be doing an experiment to compare
the impact of using an interactive virtual advisor on the XO to radio,
television, paper, and a real person.

4. Maybe some kind of pedagogic game - teachers need to have
confidence to try and change how things are working.  Perhaps if they
could experiment with different methods in a virtual classroom
environment this would help?

Other ideas would indeed be welcome :)


-Mike (OLPC Afghanistan)

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