Stories about History

Exploring Central Elements When Students Design Game Narratives

in Games and Education: Designs in and for Learning
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Abstract

This chapter explores what characterizes the narratives of games designed by students in a classroom setting and how this ties to educational outcomes. The chapter builds on video data from one sixth-grade and one seventh-grade class that designed computer games about topics from their social studies curriculum, as well as the games they created. Constructionism and a design-theoretic perspective are the main theoretical concepts informing this chapter, with the main assumption that the game design processes and the games themselves reveal what the students value and emphasize. The video data is analyzed with a focus on the organization of the social interactions. It is argued that the narrative is a key factor for learning and engagement when designing games and that the following characteristics can be observed in how the students work on game narratives: (1) content learning while shaping the game narrative; (2) exploring alternative versions of history, often testing the limits of what is legitimate to include in a school setting; (3) emphasizing the story when presenting their group’s games and evaluating those of the other groups; (4) working on narrative skills; and (5) challenging stereotypes.