[Torn from the middle pages of a conversation with a Patreon supporter, i.e., this isn't the first message in the dialogue.]
I come to this conversation "in the shadow of" decades of prior conversations.
This is not your fault, I do not blame you for it…
…but I just say, I write to you in a rather sad and hopeless manner because I've had this kind of conversation many, many times before (and nothing positive ever happened as a result).
When I was living in Cambodia, I spoke to people seriously about the possibility of creating educational video games [for those languages]. The first conversations of this kind I ever had were with a computer programmer in Toronto, before I left for Asia (probably in late 2001).
I had a number of serious conversations [along these lines] during my period of working on Cree-and-Ojibwe in Saskatchewan.
Nothing positive ever came from it. And there are reasons why.
I will jump straight to the point here ("last things first").
Re: "I don't think that what you criticize is an inherent part of the identify of video games…"
Economic considerations are extrinsic, not inherent.
Economic factors may not be inherent, and yet may be utterly overweening.
Both Instagram and Tikok are dominated by softcore pornography: there is nothing "inherently" pornographic about these websites, and yet economic factors "foretell" a very predictable pattern of what kind of content is seen --although IN THEORY one could find substantive book reviews about politics (etc.) on either one.
I do not say this because I'm morally opposed to pornography (long story short, I'm not opposed to pornography, although I've made nuanced videos dealing with the ethics and politics of the thing)… I say this because the absence of an "intrinsic" problem is not a pretext to overlook an extrinsic one.
And economics are extrinsic.
And economic forces can be very, very powerful, in determining the pattern of cultural development that ensues in any given technology or medium-for-expression.
Now tell me, why do you suppose I never managed to put together a project to make a video game like Pokemon in Cree/Ojibwe?
One of the most fundamental factors in language learning is simply repetition: a game like Pokemon that endlessly repeats simple sentences along the lines of "The bear attacks the giant otter, but the otter evades the attack…" could indeed be helpful for people trying to acquire / practice the language.
The reason why this never happens, and the reason why --GENERALLY-- there is absolutely zero software of any educational value whatsoever IS ECONOMIC.
Take a look at the history of the video game library for Nintendo DS, 3DS & 2DS: the total number of games produced for these platforms numbers in the thousands: over 2000 for the DS, perhaps another 2000 for the 3DS.
How many language education games were produced for them ever, in total?
I honestly believe I've seen them all. There are a few (VERY FEW) and they're of abysmally low quality (the developers were probably making a minimal effort, expecting minimal income).
Technologically, the 2DS / 3DS is an amazing device for language learning, or for educational software of any kind (from my perspective, it's an awful device for Sonic the Hedgehog, but the interface is much better for education, including the ability to write with a stylus ("light pen") on the screen, etc.).
What ever was done with this marvelous technology? The same thing that is done with Instagram and Tiktok: WHATEVER WILL EARN MONEY, nothing more, and nothing less.
The Canadian government would stuff money in your pockets if you were willing to make an education game to help people learn French, and would stuff ten times more money into your pockets if you then proposed to adapt it to teach Cree and Ojibwe. The level of government support (grant money) would be so vast that fundraising/donations would be unnecessary.
Is anyone ever going to do it? No, never.
Instead, the world is going to get another generation of the strange mix of sex and violence offered by DOA, KOF, SF, etc. etc. --and the endless myriad of simulations of one human being shooting another in the head ("FPS" games).
Re: "Anything is possible in a virtual world without the player being put in danger of physical harm."
No: this is as foolish as saying that anything is possible in a Hollywood movie.
What is possible in a Hollywood movie is,
(1) whatever you can convince investors (or donors) will make money,
and (2) whatever will actually receive funding to be made,
and (3) whatever is possible to stage/simulate within the limits of the funding provided.
It is just nonsense to say that anything is possible (in movies or in video games). I spoke to computer programmers and computational linguists for so many years, I spoke to people with different kinds of talent and experience linked to research, language education and the software side of the game, and nothing ever happened. And nothing ever will happen.
I defy you to sit down and start sketching out on the back of a napkin what you'd actually do if you wanted to get the budget together to make a 3DS game (even now, in 2021, as the platform is in its final years) that would really take advantage of the hardware to teach a language (any language). You will soon start to appreciate how suffocating are the constraints (and how difficult it would be for support from Kickstarter to overcome them).