After a short introduction to the idea of “narrative” or “choose-your-own-adventure” games, we will play these 2 (learning) games that have one main thing in common: they employ a lot of player agency. They can also be played in a short amount of time. Play each game and reflect on how you feel while playing the games. You will later develop your own choose-your-own adventure or narrative game (later in the semester).
Play each of these TWO games as follows:
- Spent — this game is about empathizing with poverty; you make choices and life hits you back; Play it at least twice and record not only what you achieve, but also how you feel before and after, and what you learned. The game has an “ask a friend of a loan/help” feature that makes you post to social media, so I will ask you to use Twitter for that – so people watching will see this unfold
- BBC Syrian Refugees — this game asks you to take on a role of a Syrian refugee and make decisions of how to escape and where to escape to and how. Play this one twice, taking different decisions each time and again reporting on how it felt and what you learned. Tweet some reflections after each iteration of the game and something you learned
Assignment: at HOME play 4 more (other) digital games. Choose at least two of the professionally-created. and at least one student-created game. Feel free to include an (educational) game you find on your own. The following games are options (please don’t all pick the first two!):
- Darfur is Dying – about people in Darfur (would be interesting to compare it to Syrian Refugees game)
- Liyla – this is about people in Palestine (I had it as an app on my phone – I think there’s a web-based version also)
- Virtue Reality by Islamic Relief
- Depression Quest – warning, this game may put you down if you’re already feeling kind of depressed as it is about putting yourself in the shoes of someone who is very depressed and making decisions on their behalf that might make them more or less depressed. It is a very good game if you know someone who suffers from depression and want to help them.
- Skills Practice: A Home Visit (award-winning serious game from Ryerson University, Canada) – warning, slightly disturbing as you play the role of a nurse doing a social check on someone’s mental health. This is a video-based branching game so better watched on wifi.
- September 7th, 2020 (a simulation of COVID-19 student decisions by Cait Kirby – she also created one from the faculty viewpoint called October 1st, 2020)
- Bury me, my love (Syrian focused – don’t pay anything!)
- Project Honduras (About climate change – need to use a large screeen)
- Pry (not free) – about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Voter Suppression Trial via New York Times – this one was funnier before Trump won, but still…
- Sleep-deprived mom game
- Game on responsible partying
- Games about fake news(don’t play more than one of these!)
- Previous student games
- On Domestic Abuse (Jana, 2017)
- On Street Sweepers (Fadila, 2017)
- On Child Abuse: Orphanage Edition (Fayrouz, 2017)
- On Gender Equality (Mohamed and Fatma, 2017)
- On Illiteracy by Ayah and Manar (2018) – background here
- On Animal Rights by Guirguis (2018) – background here
- On Single Moms by Merna (2018) – background here
- Know Yourself by Nermine and Yasmin (2018) –background here
- Female Fighter by Nadine (2018) – background here
- Orphan by Heart by Pansee (2018) –background here
- Being Under the Influence by Karim and Mahmoud (2018) – background here.
- A Mother’s Dilemma, about bullying by Carol Narchi (2019)
- Peer Destruction, about body shaming by Salma & Aliaa (2019)
- Special Olympics by Malak and Farida (2019)
- Manufactured Evil about caring for the environment by Omar and Nourhan (2019)
- Second-hand Depression Game (2019) by Zeina
- Single Mothers and Their Daughters (2019) by Nada
- Losing a Parent (2019) by Mai
- Among Us for teaching English (2021) by Karina (Graduate TESOL student)
To help you find more games other than those listed above:
- Some games created on Inkelwriter are available here: https://www.inklestudios.com/ & here (scroll to the bottom): https://www.inklestudios.com/inklewriter/
- Find your own serious or educational game – e.g. by searching for free ones on Games for Social Change (here or here)
- Play any game from this list collated here by Keegan Longwheeler and John Stewart (the first one won’t make much sense to Egyptian students and many of them are US-focused, but I will leave it to students to decide which ones they’d like to play)
- Play a student-created game such as these by Keegan’s students or these by AUC students (see above for a sample)
After you have played the total of 6 games (2 in class, 4 at home) post the following on your blog:
- The name of each game you played, and include a hyperlink to where a reader can find/play the game
- How you felt playing each game
- What you learned playing each game
- One suggestion for improving each game
- A reflection comparing the 5 games with each other in whatever manner you like. This could be visual, video or any other form and it can be on any criteria they choose.
Think about what you would like to do if you were to create your own “narrative” game.
PART 2: Do Background Research on the Topic of Your Own Digital Narrative Game
Do some research about your topic. If it is something you have personal experience of, write down some notes for yourself to build on to make your message clear (a good example of such a game is Merna Kostandy’s and Mahmoud Yehia/Karim Habashi’s – this would be a reflection, called “authoethnography” research). If it is something that happens to people around you, do some informal interviews with them to make sure you’re telling their true experience, not a stereotypical one (a good example is Carol Narchi’s and Fadila’s games above). If it is difficult to do so, then you can do some secondary research about the topic (a good example is Jana Khalifa’s). Finally, you can do some observational research, whether observing behavior online or in person. Make sure not to share any personally identifiable information about anyone you are doing research about or to include any screenshots from e.g. facebook groups, without permission.
PART 3: Prototype Your Own Digital Narrative Game
- Read this article: https://dmlcentral.net/9-mistakes-avoid-designing-educational-games/
- Write up a prototype (i.e. a rough outline or sketch) for a narrative game you might create about a topic you care about, where you want to raise awareness or empathy about it. You don’t need to know technically how they are done, you just need to know that your game needs to involve decision-making (like the games you played for the previous assignment) and that the learner’s choice would lead them to a different consequence. [you may do this assignment as an individual or in pairs – if you work in pairs, just make sure you clarify in your blogpost who your partner was]. Try to include at least 5 scenarios that would occur in your game, and explain how you came up with them (personal experience, something you read, someone you spoke to?). This video helps you imagine how you might write up the scenarios and visualize them.
- Present to classmates to get feedback & give feedback to at least 3 of your colleagues by posting comments on their blogs. Remember to highlight what you think is GOOD about their game, but also give constructive feedback on how their game can be improved?
Part 4: Create a Digital Form of Your Narrative Game and Playtest It
Create your game using something like Google Slides (instructions video here) or Google Forms (instructions video here), including at least 10 scenarios and their consequences. If working in pairs, aim for 20 scenarios.
[Spring 2021 update: Inkelwriter is also a great tool made especially for this kind of thing – if you are interested to try it, it is available for free here: https://www.inklestudios.com/inklewriter/]
[Spring 2021 side note: If you have a programming background and want to create a complex game with things like variables and such – you could try to experiment with Twine, but it is not necessary for this course. Speak to me if you’re interested in that]
Write a blogpost describing your game, linking to a playable version of your game, and inviting others to give feedback on the first draft.
Part 5: Final draft
Write a blogpost describing your final game, linking to it and explaining
- How you modified it since first draft based on feedback (include links to previous blogposts about the game)
- What you would have done differently if you had more time
- What you learned while making this game
Please note that your final draft should: