Making games in the classroom could be daunting to get started, especially when graphics and interfaces are involved. So creating text adventures (or interactive fictions, IF) is a great start for building the capacity of game design and traditional literacy – reading and writing. Anastasia Salter of ProfHacker selected some free tools sutiable for classrooms.
Inform 7 is a powerful starting point for those who’ve never programmed because it uses natural language for creating everything.
Working with language on this level has many potential applications for thinking about lliterature, but interactive fiction has also been used for creating interactive philosophical quandaries in the classroom or interpreting historical work. You can find several resources on teaching with Inform 7 on their site. I use Inform 7 in my classroom primarily for changing students’ understanding of narrative, but it also encourages a different way of thinking–and can make an interesting start for bringing some of the logic of programming into your classroom.
Last week, Inkle Studios released “Future Voices,” a curated collection of stories produced with its interactive story development tool. This slick iPad app features the tech behind Frankenstein, an interactive adaptation of Mary Shelley’s novel by Dave Morris. Play through any of these stories for a while and you’ll see everything from straightforward choices of action to complex moral dilemmas and experiments. You can also check out many experiments on the web, including Emily Short’s Holography–she’s also written some thoughts on inklewriter as a platform.
Personally I’d like to try building a textbook in inklewriter, perhaps one for programming or another self-guided topic that could be paced and refocused according to user choices. Inklewriter offers a paid service to convert story files to Kindle eBooks, which can then be sold through Amazon. Anyone can publish web-based versions of their stories for free.
If you’re looking for something simple that offers ways to break out of the linear text form, you might want to check out Twine, a free open platform(created by Chris Klimas) for building simple linked nonlinear texts. Twine has been around for several years, but it’s recently experienced a resurgence in use for experimental works and in classrooms. Ambitious projects like the just-released Depression Quest (by Zoe Quinn, Patrick Lindsey, and Isaac Schankler) show how powerful Twine can be for storytelling and persuasive games. I’m using it as a first tool in an upcoming course on interactive narrative alongside examination of the hypertextual electronic literature it resembles at a structural level.
Follow Anastasia Salter for more sharing about this topic, or try them yourself.
Introducing Versu (Emily’s blog)
Today(Feb.14, 2013), the folks at Linden Lab released Versu, an interactive space for living stories that you can download for free for the iPad. You can watch the trailer above to get a sense of what Versu is all about, though to really get a sense, I recommend playing through the free stories that come with the app.
Versu is the brainchild of AI researcher Richard Evans and acclaimed interactive fiction author Emily Short. They’ve been talking about the concept for a while, and it’s really cool to see it finally come out. It’s a bit more complicated than this, but the main thing that sets Versu stories apart from standard Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style games is that you can play multiple characters, and each character reacts to what’s going on according to its own distinct AI.
- Digital game-based language learning with Interactive Fiction (PART 1) (classroom-aid.com)
- Bringing Computer Games into the Teaching and Learning Environment (classroom-aid.com)
- Glitch: The Text Adventure, and Other Fun with Playfic (waxy.org)
- Text adventure games are still new (classroom-aid.com)
- Twine, Creativity, and Freedom: The Leo Loikkanen Interview (indiegraph.wordpress.com)