Spotlight on Learning: Using Video Games to Tell Stories
Connecting Digital Citizenship to Language Arts
In the last few weeks, students in 4th grade have been introduced to many characters through reading a variety of texts to better understand how character traits impact a character’s development. They’ve been exploring characters’ thoughts, motivations, and defining moments in a character’s journey. At the same time, students have been learning important digital citizenship skills, including keeping video games fun and friendly. This brought on a natural bridge between the two subjects: how can these students create fun and collaborative video game concepts that have rich character development?
Working through the planning process, students worked collaboratively with peers and teachers to come up with their own concept for a video game. Many students adapted video games they already play and enjoy while others are working on novel concepts. Some games involve battles between good and bad forces like launching healthy food into other peoples’ mouths in the cafeteria surrounded by unhealthy snacks, while other student games involve journeys with other cooperative players to discover a treasure. Each student has to describe their main character in as much detail as they can as well as the setting. With each of these games, students are exploring the “why” behind their main characters’ actions and motivations. Developing their characters and story further informs their game concept, and vice versa.
Teachers are collaborating to develop the next stages in this project. Students will be able to write the story seed for their video game ideas to best share the characters’ motivations and goals that will draw in their reader, or in this case, the gamer. Next, they will also use digital tools to design the cover for their video game concept. Already, students have shown a desire to learn about coding the games into reality, which offers further exploration and extension and more stories to tell.