Watchdog show investigates Brain Training 'discrimination'

The BBC's consumer-affairs programme Watchdog has run a report on the popular Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training [Brain Age in the US] game, investigating claims of virtual bias against local dialects. It seems that those with strong regional accents, such as those found in Scotland or Manchester, are...

The BBC's consumer-affairs programme Watchdog has run a report on the popular Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training [Brain Age in the US] game, investigating claims of virtual bias against local dialects.

It seems that those with strong regional accents, such as those found in Scotland or Manchester, are having some issues with being understood by the good doctor.

A radio journalist from Manchester, Michelle Livesey, complained to the show that, "Basically you have to say the different colours that flash up on the screen as quickly as possible. I'm saying 'blue, blue, blue,' and it's saying 'no,' even though it was blue. Then it got to yellow. I'm going, 'yeller,' and everyone's saying to me you need to be a bit posher. You need to say 'yellow,' and as soon as I did, it picked it up."

Nintendo responded to the show's request for comment to say that the game recognises a wide range of accents and dialects, and that the voice-recognition section makes up only a small amount of the game, and is "not integral to the overall enjoyment with such a software title."

In conclusion, it pointed DS users to the advice given in the game's manual...

1. The ideal distance to be from the Nintendo DS system when speaking into the microphone is about 20-30 cm (8-12 inches).

2. Be careful, as the microphone is very sensitive, and shouting or blowing may hinder the voice recognition.

3. The environment should be quiet.

4. Pronounce each word as clearly as possible, and try to avoid using strong dialects or accents.

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Discussion

97 comments
beerblogger
beerblogger

Well aren't I the lucky one? Blue, scissors, no problem. But every time I say Six it chooses a different number. Usually it starts with Seven, then tries Eight, Four... then I laugh so much because it's so silly and I can't speak anyway. Definitely the best brain test on the cartridge. And an excellent topic for national television, hurrah!

xaviwavi
xaviwavi

nebraskans speak perfect english? surely the people who created the english language (THE ENGLISH) would speak perfect english

TaintedSaint666
TaintedSaint666

Of course saying 'yeller' isn't going to work, It's like saying 'blick' and complaining the game is broken...

twiztdmike
twiztdmike

Defade your a biggot. each country NOT state (or province or every 50 miles) has a perfect form of speech. In america, Nebraska notoriously has no accent. They say words the way they are meant to be said in the english language. Just like there is perfect spanish and perfect french.

If some one speaks with a different accent than you, but your both speaking the same form of the same language (i.e. american english, or europeon english) Then you can't both be right. You could both be wrong, but there IS a correct way to speak in every country, that is considered accent free.

by the way Im from colorado so I'm not defending the ACCENT I have. But that isn't to say I don't know the proper way to say blue, or that I can't fake a different accent.

kegmiester
kegmiester

It would be difficult and near impossible to attempt to calibrate the software so that it would understand everybody's accents. Cut the game some slack! It was built in 90 days and its one of the few games that uses the mic on the ds. In fact this is one of the first few attempts at using the mic in an interactive way, of course theres going to be the odd hicup or 2. The fact that the majority of users not complaining and can use it properly shows that nintendo nor the game had any intentions to 'discriminate'. rather, its an unfortunate event. Besides the linguistic part isn't the main area, there are other exciting brain training excercises.

DefAde72
DefAde72

I love the way EVERYBODY is claiming to have little or no accent.... That is because that screwed up dialect you talk in, is what is "normal" to your ears... MORONS EVERYBODY has an accent.... Go and ask someone who lives 50 miles away from you if you have "No accent"

Chiyou
Chiyou

ya know what they can do if they don't like it?! make their own brain training game, then again if they can't pronounce "yellow" properly they're probably too stupid to do it...

bardkieran
bardkieran

In related news, Kunji Aboga of Kenya complained that his DS didnt recognize yellow when he pronounced it perfectly. In an interview he said "I spoke as clearly as I could, pronouning the color, clik-clik-clu, and it didnt recognize it" :D

cayne_phoenix
cayne_phoenix

And so Lieutenant Commander Scott "Scotty" starts screaming at his DS " I canna do dat Cuptain!! She won't take da strain!!!"

Canitbe
Canitbe

[quote]RaiKageRyu "yeller" Geez, who would have thought? [/quote] Who would have thought what? 'Yella, Yello, and Yeller' are used all over the place, including North America. It's really no different then people in Ohiaaa sayin' Uhrl instead of Oil.

WeWerePirates
WeWerePirates

I'm guessing the voice recognition is done on fast fourier transform. I suspect it just matches to the nearest word based on some test data estimates, that would be the standard way of doing it. Of course little Arm processors have no floating point unit so won't be so accurate. They would probably know exactly why it doesn't work at WatchDog. Having some journalistic integrity, they must have done some research as to exactly why the voice recognition is flakey, perhaps asked some one with half a clue. I mean I assume they did and just didn't show it in the report. In fairness they have been on the money in the past about Nintendo boning us in the UK, like on the Zelda collection for the Gamecube. Of course it didn't change anything, they justly whinged about it though.

ketsuatama
ketsuatama

Helps to have a sense of humour and little less political correctness! I.m certain a lot of Japanese themselves have trouble saying certain words properly but they are not complaining. BBC= Pompous asses!

PacoL250
PacoL250

Oh and "yeller" instead of "yellow?" Come on now...

PacoL250
PacoL250

Mountain out of a molehill.... Seriously, they really think that the game could account for so many different accents, speech patterns, dialects, etc.? Even speech recognition software has a hard time at first and you need to train it.

KBABZ
KBABZ

This isn't discrimination. Discrimination in this game would be the game actually picking up that it's a Scottish or Welsh or Australian or what-have-you accent and the game going "Take off the goddamn bad accent and speak proper English, SWINE!!"

Tylendal
Tylendal

This is just ridiculous. If you can't speak English properly, then don't complain that it doesn't recognize you. It even says right in the game. "Results will be most accurate for native English speakers". And who the heck is complaining that they have to pronounce yellow "yellow" instead of "yeller". YELLER IS A PERSON WHO YELLS, LIKE I'M CONVEYING THAT I'M DOING NOW. IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, "YELLER" DOES NOT MEAN YELLOW, SO STOP COMPLAINING. Edit: I wonder what sort of person thinks that pronouncing yellow how it's actually supposed to be pronounced is "posh"?

felshs
felshs

LMAO.........no two accent is a like.............but some people is so ignorant, they would laugh if they hear a strange accent. black, white, and asian have different voice tone too.

Freddyy1977
Freddyy1977

Actually, I think the program just has horrible voice recognition. I'm an American, born and raised speaking American English. I'm from the middle of the country which has no real noticeable accent. The game couldn't understand me when I said "blue" either.

gnbfd
gnbfd

It must be his accent (if he has one) cause last time I played BA blue was picked up easily. lol "yeller"

SorcererLance
SorcererLance

it's not discrimination, just poor programming when the game released in the UK O_o

GrimBee
GrimBee

Perhaps they should release a "scottish" version, or a "welsh" version.. or, whilst they are at it - they should release a version which pretty much covers every accent and dialect in the UK... that will cover about 50 or 60 copies right there... Cockney rhyming brain training... ;) Imagine Brain training for the "am i bovverd" types of ladies from the south-east?! Sheesh.. i would imagine that this is probably the stupidest "investigation" that has ever graced the TV. Strong accents... what a silly thing to investigate. I doubt that there is a brain training version for people who can't talk... so how about investigating that!!

AwesomeIRL
AwesomeIRL

My cockney friend threw his DS out of a moving car while playing Brain Age.

Merl57
Merl57

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

Leria
Leria

I have to agree that speaking 'normally', as Zikar pointed out, is not at all a 'posh' thing...... really, the speech rules in the world have gotten so lax that I cannot understand someone from Baltimore (I live less than 40 miles away from there) because they have that 'Bawlmer' accent.

nth1739
nth1739

instead of claiming Braintraining is bias, they should claim it teaches you HOW TO SPEAK PROPER ENGLISH. I mean..."yeller"...come on. I think its time to take "yeller" to the old barn and put 'er down.

explosivo57
explosivo57

i dont need english, im not going to england

mumbers
mumbers

The best bit was when the woman e-mailed in at the end and complained that she had a heavy lisp and it wouldn't recognise her saying Scissors!! BTW why did campbell keep going on about the DS Nintendo? Not a clue.

BlueYoshi579
BlueYoshi579

"Yeller"? It doesn't recognize that because it's NOT A WORD.

Axe_336
Axe_336

Why do people expect things to accomadate their own personal preferences? Its designed to recognize proper English, so speak proper English. I don't go to France and ask them to speak perfect English just because I'm there.

Thorpe89
Thorpe89

I have no problems with the voice function. It's a great piece of software to have on Nintendo DS.

Darth_Tyrranus
Darth_Tyrranus

Next people will be complaining that the game doesn't understand eubonics.

hobotech64
hobotech64

Well obviously she's too stupid for THAT game...

yukine
yukine

Haha, everyone knows it can't understand "blue" properly. BRUE! BRUUUUUUUE!!!!

highlar
highlar

Its sad, but true, though, as well. Although, I just get a kick out of it and end up with the giggles every time I try out the verbal color test for this reason: it almost never recognizes "blue" when I say it, but start saying "brue" and it picks it pu every time. :-P

parrot_of_adun
parrot_of_adun

If the softare was capable of picking up on every dialect and accent, it would likely come up with multiple results for one answer, which wouldn't be good. The best way is just to keep it specific to the most common accent (there is no such thing as "no accent", it's just more common).

Faroon
Faroon

Oh good grief - do they think we live on the Starship Enterprise? Voice recognition is crap - the fact that it can recognize anyone East of New York is a miracle, tbh.

cashplaya_2009
cashplaya_2009

I dont spreken ze English good so me buy ze Brain Age and it no understand....me say brain age disccriminiminate....please there claims are trash

rockstar_88
rockstar_88

I have the Minnesotan accent, which is considered the "perfect English" accent, and even I know the frustration involved with getting the software to recognize "blue".

ignautius
ignautius

It is biased against hip-hop artists because it doesn't recognize "yizzle" instead of "yellow" then, too?

---LOST---
---LOST---

I can understand people from England, Can, USA, and Australia fine... anywhere else I'm either guessing or totally loss unless you speak very good english...

segaraptor
segaraptor

How can you fault a game for including the most widely recognized pronunciation? Wouldn't that be the best way to program it? I imagine people speaking pidgin English would not be compensated for. With so many accents in the English language in the UK, North America, and elsewhere, it would be impossible to program a game to understand all accents. Come on.

Gribb85
Gribb85

This is what BBC prime time has to resort to? I say yellow and your say yella, maybe they should bias class status in there as well. And they say gaming journalism has to mature...

NinjaMunkey01
NinjaMunkey01

This is ot prejudist. You cannot put EVERY dialect on the game, it would take up too much space. Just say it clearly, or dont play. My little brother has the game, I make istekes but it does not matter.

tenorio_rotc
tenorio_rotc

Wow, do they want everyone's accent in there? Thats kind of hard to do. Also, some accents deviate way too much from the english language. Yeller? That was it, that should not be accepted. Because that is not the word!

jmartin1016
jmartin1016

Manchester.... Scotland. The people from these places can't even understand themselves. What do they expect? Frugal McDougle!!!!

BoogieManZero
BoogieManZero

I am from central United States, considered of the English speaking portion of the world to have the least prominent accent and that games till doesn't understand me. The word blue specifically is hard for it to read.

1357900
1357900

It's not prejudice. Don't expect the game to account for everything. The game just has less-than mediocre recognition skills. The game does the same thing w/ me, & even when my family tried it, multiple times. Brain Age 2 supposedly has a better recognition system. "yeller" lol

AltecApollyon
AltecApollyon

this is retarded....first of all, i have a hard time understand the "english" they put in there on the "word blend" european version, since its a really strong british accent - but no-one is complaining about that. theres nothing prejudice about this, but then again, seems that everyone nowadays is looking for something to blame....

wambabonga
wambabonga

watchdog complain about everything under the sun, I didnt watch the show but I wouldnt be suprised if they showed nintendo in a bad light because of this