Innovation: Education

Want to try out interactive fiction and games?

Want to try out writing interactive fiction and games with your students? Here are three tools that make it easy to get started.

In order of ease of use: YouTube

"Choose What Happens Next" is a series of videos that focus on digital citizenship choices for students. You navigate them like Choose Your Own Adventure books.
“Choose What Happens Next” is a series of videos that focus on digital citizenship choices for students. You navigate them like Choose Your Own Adventure books.

YouTube’s recently beefed up their suite of online editing tools (including a bank of royalty-free audio clips) and made them simpler to use. By embedding text-based links in video, you can tell an interactive video-based story.

YouTube Pros:

  • editing tools easy to use
  • doesn’t require a ton of writing, so caters to visual storytellers

YouTube Cons:

  • doesn’t require a ton of writing
  • YouTube may be blocked at your school (but that’s a WHOLE other blogpost)

 

Next up: StoryNexus

StoryNexus made a big splash when it was introduced via the way-too-addictive speculative steampunk game Fallen London. Players navigate through a virtual, text-based world in a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure manner, but with choose-a-card activities that interject an element of chance into the proceedings.

Winterstrike is a post-apocalyptic game of chance, built on the StoryNexus platform.

StoryNexus Pros:

  • Easy and compelling to get really into world-building
  • Lots of students already on there with games; peers, feedback, ideas
  • Library of GoogleDocs manuals and crowd-sourced how-to’s
  • Easy to add images and audio to text
  • Lots and lots of writing to do, boosts world-building

StoryNexus Cons:

  • Students need to sign up for accounts
  • Hard to build a game in one class period
  • Lots and lots of writing to do

 

And then there’s Twine

(“Do it for the Twine! I ain’t gonna do–“)

Ahem.

Ashton Raze's Twine game,"Don't Read the Comments", combining digital citizenship with Twin Peaks references.
Ashton Raze’s Twine game,”Don’t Read the Comments”, combining digital citizenship with Twin Peaks references.

Twine‘s a challenging little piece of software that takes a step closer to computer programming logic while you build your games. It’s a stellar introduction to the concept of global vs. local variables, for instance*.

Twine games are browser-based, which means you can practice your HTML and CSS skills while you sort out what kind of tea the yeti usually drinks. Yes, I made that game**. It was not entirely easy but the things that were complicated didn’t make me tear my hair out. They were fun to figure out, and as a fan of interactive fiction, I enjoy the pace of the finished product.

 Twine Pros:

  • The ability to embed videos, images and audio make this a truly multimedia storytelling platform
  • Lets students bone up on HTML and CSS while they write

Twine Cons:

  • Steeper learning curve than the other two

Here are some lovely related links for you to disappear down the rabbithole of your choice:

Do you:

Let the games… begin!

 

 

*If that sentence didn’t make sense to you, get in touch. Let’s get you a seat at this summer’s Code Camp.

**And yes, it’s not finished, because I also have to write many fine blog posts each week, such as this one. You will cope.

Author

Audrey Homan

Audrey Homan is a Vermont-based digital media producer, and producer of The 21st Century Classroom podcast. She's worked in non-profit communications for more than a decade, and in her spare time writes tiny video games and mucks about with augmented reality and arduinos, ably assisted by five dogs.

Interviewing students and yelling in PHP are the best parts of her job.

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