This is so frustrating. XLife is exactly what I am looking for. But it is not really available in Japan.

A simulation is a type of computer application that simulates real life. The first simulators were for airline pilots to learn how to fly without endangering the passengers. Will Wright’s SimCity and the offshoots are probably the best-known examples of this genre.

XLife was developed by an Iranian/US developer and paid for by the US State department. The idea is to give middle easterners a chance to experience and learn about American culture. This PR effort targets cell phones because more than twice as many people in the mideast own them than computers (53% vs. 24%). Details available in the Wall Street Journal (may be blocked behind paywall.)

XLife is a series of different lives you can act out, all of which take you to the US to live and learn. You get points for knowledge of the US and points for making the right decisions, all on your cell phone.

Unfortunately, right now, the game only works with some Nokia phones and a few Ericson phones, neither of which are very popular here. I’m going to try it out on my daughter’s phone and see how that works, but I am not optimistic. I’m a bit frustrated. I think this is the direction for the future of language learning. Simulations, games and cell-phone access.