The hardest part of learning Japanese, as a child or as an adult, is memorizing the Japanese and Chinese characters required for reading.
Beginners, like my son Genji, start in kindergarten with 96 kana characters—the native Japanese syllabary—and that is followed by 80 new Chinese characters—kanji—in the first grade. But that's still just the beginning.
Genji will need to memorize over 1,000 characters before he graduates from elementary school. Too many students of Japanese simply give up after the first year or two.
Kanjilicious is going to change all that—for any beginner. We are going to turn rote memorization into a game—many games—so learning the basics isn't so intimidating. Learning games are fun, efficient, and ultimately more effective.
Flash Cards from the Future
Kanjilicious starts with mobile flash cards, divided into sets by grade, textbook, or JLPT level. Each individual card has 5 screens of data illustrating each character's meaning, and as well as examples of usage.
Beginners can quickly review:
- pronunciation and reading
- stroke order
We're also taking advantage of the best of the iOS interface by keeping everything clean, simple and intuitive.
- gesture controls
- native animations
- a rhythmic taiko soundtrack
Game Your Japanese
Our first game is a simple one-on-one practice test against a challenger, in which she who answers the most prompts correctly, in the shortest amount of time, wins—QuizUp meets Duolingo for Japanese.
- Challenge friends and classmates
- Track your won-loss record
- Set personal bests
- Join leaderboards
Research shows that the use of gamification in education improves retention, increases motivation, and raises performance. We are raising a nation of gamers, why not take advantage of the grammar of games and put it to use here, as a tool for learning.
About Saren and Genji
I'm Saren. I am not a developer. Genji and I have all these crazy ideas and we need help making them happen. I will be the Producer and I can rally a team to make all the little things happen. But we need professional help with design and development.
I have spent the last 12 years working in digital agencies like AKQA, JUXT and Perficient, project managing the creation of digital experiences for brands like Nike, Sprite, Red Bull and Sony Pictures. I know what needs to be done, and I know people who can do it.
I lived in Japan for two years and studied as hard as I possibly could, and I still only managed to achieve a 3rd grade level of literacy. A couple of months ago, when my 6 year-old started Japanese school, he began to study his written characters in earnest. We realized that we had a lot of app ideas we couldn't find anywhere else that could really help him ramp up his study more quickly—and frankly help me review what I'd previously learned in Japan.
This is why we started Kanjilicious, but we know there are lot of students, here and in Japan, that could play these games and learn along the way. So we want to invite you to help do this together.
With a budget of $15,000 raised here on Kickstarter, I will initiate a 30/60/90 day plan to get version 1.0 into the app store. It will take 30 days to finalize the UI and Design, 60 days to build a beta and begin testing, and 90 days to come out of testing and into the app store.
Version 1.0 will have the full set of hiragana, katakana and the first 6 grade levels of kanji - covering the first 1,300 characters. The kana and Grade 1 kanji will always be free. In time, additional grade levels and special sets will be available as an in-app purchases. Revenue will sustain growth and more features.
This is a passion project first and foremost. We're not really in it to make money. We just want to have and share an awesome app.
Genji and I have a roadmap of additional features we would love to include should we be able to raise funds beyond the initial $15k.
The three primary elements of our stretch goals are simple:
- additional mobile platforms
- additional games
- additional languages.
Kanjilicious is a gaming platform and it's cool games that will make this work. We will launch with a simple memory game, but we have ideas for a number of other smaller, more casual and social games.
If we can raise over $30,000 we would be able to build out our next game idea, as well as get started on a public API for community built games.
We also want to be cross-platform as quickly as possible. If we can rise above $40k we will also be able to launch an Android version later in the fall.
Please give whatever you can. We appreciate your generosity and we look forward to working with you.
Risks and challenges
The next step after funding is to secure the resources we need to design and build the app. I am working with a local, Japanese-savvy design and development team to build the first version of Kanjilicious, and we have identified the vendors and resources we'll need for the rest of the assets (music, illustrations, copy).
We have confirmed availability and they are awaiting our go ahead. I am a co-organizer of the Orange County iOS Developer group, so I have a number of backups should schedules conflict.
The second challenge is to get the word out into the communities that would be best served by this app, so the user-base can grow organically.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)