I have been spending some time playing Device 6, the new game from Simogo a studio I came across a while back when I found out about their last game Year Walk. This was a beautiful and surreal game that was unlike anything I had ever played before. Its sparse yet beautifully crafted aesthetic conveyed a sense of being lost in the wilderness that matched the narrative of the game. It was one of those games that took the game play experience in new and exciting direction. So far Device 6 has totally captured my imagination in the way that Year Walk did…have a look at the trailer and find out a bit more about the game here.
The nature of my job is such that every time I play a game I think of ways in which it can be used in an educational context, you know, how can these incredibly rich and engaging resources/contexts be used to capture learners’ imagination and then be used as the contextual hub from which intrinsically motivated learning and purposeful can take place. The developing nature of narrative driven games such as Device 6 is an area that I am really interested in and in the past I have tried to use a range of games that have a narrative thread to create contexts for rich learning that would allow writing, reading and a host of creative endeavours to come to life for learners. In 2007 I first tried this when the brilliant Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney came out for the DS. My thoughts were that such a game would encourage learners to engage with the game and then possibly be motivated enough to create their own court room type scenes that could be written or dramatized in a range of ways. Some of the schools that worked with me on this focused on characterization and wrote character descriptions for the main characters in this game. Here you can see my very first Teachmeet presentation in 2008 at BETT. It is called, ‘Objection! Games in the Classroom’ and it focus on Phoenix Wright as a learning resource.
I also did some interesting work with teachers and learners from Perth High School and Madras College (Glow login required) when we used Hotel Dusk Room 215 as the context that allowed us to explore the genre of Noir Novels. The game was given home, along with a DS, to a class of S2 learners for the Easter Holidays and they were asked to have a go at it over those two weeks. On return we found that every learner had played it and completed it! This then allowed the teacher to explore other Noire texts such as movies, books and radio broadcasts. The final one gave us the context in which learners could then write their own Noire style story inspired by Noire and mystery based radio broadcasts from the 1930s, 40s & 50s that featured characters such as The Shadow and Sam Spade as well as the stories from organisations such as The Molle Mystery Theatre. The pupils learned all about the principles and component parts of the Noir genre and used these to create their own broadcast ready audio files that dramatized their creative writing. I think that this context could work so well in schools when you consider that if learners wrote such stories and released them on a serialized basis through weekly podcast just think what this could do for situating writing within a context that has real purpose and audience. I attempted to practice what I preach when I made a ham-fisted effort at creating my own mystery style audio broadcast for an event I was presenting at last year:
Anyway back to Device 6. As devices such as iPads and Android tablets become more and more commonly found and used at the heart of learning in schools I really hope that we see a real shift from using them to carry out traditional type of activities and move towards using them in such a way that maximizes their potential. It would be great to see a continuation of the type of work the Scottish Government recently started that looked at the pulling together of a picture of the developing narrative of the use of tablet devices in schools, a narrative that would hoepfully see such resources being used to enhance and enrcih learning. There is great potential in using apps such as Device 6 to create the context that can encourage learners to write for themselves and for an audience - a global one at that, hey, you could even get them to write their own stories inspired by Device 6 using Inkle. So so much we could do here…
If anyone is using Device 6 ort any other narrative driven computer game to encourage literacy development in their school please let me know what you are doing.