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25 March, 2020 Community

Theo Kipen – connecting people through language and gaming

Let your passion and curiosity be your guide, even when it takes you to some very strange places.Theo Kipen (OM 2011)

Theo Kipen (OM 2011) has always been motivated by a desire to connect and understand people. It was this desire that drove him to learn Japanese at St Michael’s, and after finishing Year 12, to study a Bachelor of Design (Games) at RMIT University. With a vision for creating video games that teach language, Theo could see an opportunity to encourage more people to understand and connect with each other.

After graduating, Theo jumped at the opportunity to work in Japan for two years as an assistant language teacher in the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme, an experience that broadened his perspective and improved his language skills.

Upon his return to Melbourne, Theo established his own production company, Not Dead Design. Theo saw a gap in the market for a high-quality Japanese language game and began working on a game called Kana Quest. The aim of Kana Quest is to teach hiragana, one component of the Japanese writing system, in a fun and engaging way.

  • Theo Kipen – connecting people through language and gaming
    Theo Kipen (OM 2011)
  • Theo Kipen – connecting people through language and gaming
    A member of the Not Dead Design team ready for the launch of Kana Quest

In his design process for Kana Quest, Theo recalled the way a good teacher interacts with their students. The game, like the teacher, can make learning fun, lets the student progress at their own pace, and challenges the student to understand why the topic is important. The result of this unique design philosophy was a game that involves solving fun, domino-style puzzles with Japanese letters.

For students who are interested in game design, Theo’s advice is to “be curious about everything” and to have a plan. Theo admits that the road to becoming a successful game designer is not a smooth one, and for most designers, game development is a hobby rather than a full-time career. Theo recommends learning about as many different topics as possible, playing as many games as you can, and having a wide range of experiences to draw from. Theo also suggests having passions and interests outside of the gaming world, just like Japanese is for him.

Find the things you love, work on them and hold them close. They are often the things that help you figure out what to do next.Theo Kipen (OM 2011)

This week, as online learning has become the norm for our students, games like Kana Quest could provide an opportunity for further education outside of the classroom. According to Theodor, a good game can be a powerful motivator, with potential to engage students’ passions and minds simultaneously. For our students who are learning Japanese, or for those interested in learning, Kana Quest could be a great tool to help you study in a fun and memorable way.

To learn more about Kana Quest visit the website here.