Why I March

“Wake up America!  Wake up!”  For we cannot stop, and we will not and cannot be patient. – John Lewis, 28 August 1963

It’s been a day of reading, reflecting, writing, and vlogging:

Women’s March Oklahoma – Photo Story

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Women’s March Oklahoma – Video Story

eXperience Produce

If you are interested in participating in eXperience Play (XP) remotely, I am going to provide a to-do list of items each week. These to-do lists will include a variety of tasks such as playing games, reflecting, blogging, and portions of game development. If you complete all five to-do lists, you will produce an educational text-based game in five weeks. For more information on this professional development, read this blog post, visit the eXperience Play website, or contact me via Twitter or email.

This post corresponds with the third session of XP.

Part 1 – Game Development

1. Install Twine 2.0 on your Windows, Mac, or Linux computer.

2. View this video introduction of Twine 2.0:

3. Review these two Twine Syntaxes we’ll use to build games this week (from the Harlowe story format):

Basic Twine Syntax

Link 2 Twine Passages

Add Text Within A Twine Passage

4. Start building your game using your outline and storyboard from last week and the two Twine Syntaxes presented above.

Experiment with Twine as you are building, and realize your game will morph as you learn more. Plan on adding as much content as possible using the two outlined Twine Syntaxes. Next week, we will continue developing our games using more syntax tools, media, etc.

Here’s an example of an in-progress Twine game from XP:

 

5. Find someone to play your in-progress game and give you feedback. I’d recommend an individual in your vicinity since your game is stored locally on your computer for now.

Part 2 – Professional Development

6. Write a blog post about your experience building your game using the following prompt:

Blog Prompt
  • Document how your game looks and functions as you are building it in Twine.
  • Write about what students are creating in your courses. (Ex: projects, papers, data analysis, etc.) How are these opportunities intended to engage students creatively?
  • Reflect and write about where game design might fit into your courses? What would you want students to learn from a game design project?

Please start building your text-based game using the outlined Twine Syntaxes.  Share screenshots of your progress with me via Twitter or email or reach out with any questions.

The featured image is provided CC0 by Sven Scheuermeier via Unsplash.

eXperience Plan

If you are interested in participating in eXperience Play (XP) remotely, I am going to provide a to-do list of items each week. These to-do lists will include a variety of tasks such as playing games, reflecting, blogging, and portions of game development. If you complete all five to-do lists, you will produce an educational text-based game in five weeks. For more information on this professional development, read this blog post, visit the eXperience Play website, or contact me via Twitter or email.

This post corresponds with the second session of XP.

Part 1 – Game Development

1. Watch this video:

Think about the scope of the game you want to build and know that you do not have to make a perfect game on your first try. You are learning!

2. Outline the story/choices of your game (from the idea you were brainstorming last week).

3. Create a storyboard to visually organize the outline of your game. Hold onto this storyboard for next week. Here’s an examples of how the connections in your storyboard may look:

Digital flow chart illustrating liner and circular organizations of stories in text-based games.

Please note that I’m not concerned with an “official” way to storyboard or plan your game. XP participants have developed flow charts on whiteboards, used notecards to represent each “scene” of their text-based game, setup spreadsheets to map out choices, and created digital flow charts using software like CmapTools. Use whatever tools you need/want while planning your game. If you have questions about this or want to engage with us, please reach out to us.

Here’s another example of the planning taking place in XP:

Part 2 – Professional Development

4. Write a blog post about your experience planning your game using the following prompt:

Blog Prompt
  • Write an overview of the process you followed while planning your game. Document what tools you used (whiteboard, notecards, software, other, etc.) and include screenshots of your planning artifacts (complete or in-progress).
  • Reflect and write about how this outlining and storyboarding exercise helped you while planning your game. Alternatively, applying this activity to the classroom, how can outlining and storyboarding a concept or project aid a student?
  • Research & define “Digital Storytelling” in your own words. Describe your outlining and storyboarding exercise in the context of your definition of “Digital Storytelling.”

Please have your plan/storyboard for your text-based game ready by September 26th.  Share your storyboard with me via Twitter or email or reach out with any questions.

The featured image is provided CC0 by Olu Eletu via Unsplash.

I Made My First Game

Lots of things are happening, but I wanted to take a moment and talk about a project from last month. I participated in my first game jam! Serenity Forge hosted this event over the weekend of August 5-7th and the theme was to build games about “Healing.” Due to the timing and the theme of this game jam, I was compelled to develop my first game!

The Tool – Twine

To build my game I used Twine—an open source tool for developing text-based games that are often labelled as “interactive fiction.” Twine is an interesting game development tool because it is far easier to learn than any other game engine. (In fact, this is the reason John and I decided to use Twine in the professional development for game design that we’re hosting this semester.) Since it is free and accessible, I invite you to give Twine a try. You can learn more about how to use it here.

The main menu of Twine.
The main menu of Twine.

The Story

Since the timing of this game jam coincided with the passing of my grandmother, I chose to create a game around the healing I was seeking at that time. The most difficult part of this project was reflecting on my pain to decipher what steps I was taking to heal—examining my emotions and exploring how writing memories of my grandmother was cathartic. The narrative of my game evolved from these experiences, and rather than rewriting the story here, let me show you the game:

 

Reflections

Did making a game about my pain help me heal? – At the time it was being developed I would have answered “no.” Having to listen to voicemails from my grandmother and watching videos of our adventures together was disheartening. In fact, I struggled to listen to her final voicemail to me, which I had not yet listened to at that point. But building “Healing Words” and coming to terms with her death required me to address my feelings.

Looking back on this experience after about a month I can adamantly say “Yes, making a game about my grandmother’s death did help me heal.” It wasn’t the process of making the game that helped—rather, that part was painful. Instead, it was the process of sharing my experience with others through the game that helped me heal. Using a game to communicate my emotions and then to engage others after their playthrough was the point where I felt the most healing. From people expressing their condolences or sharing their own memories as part of the game, soulful relations bloomed as a result. These connections then manifested in healing.

Would I recommend doing this? – Game design made me think about human experiences and communicating ideas in ways I never would have dreamed. Thinking through how text, media, and choice impact players was a metacognitive exercise for me. I had to translate both my emotions and the responses to those emotions into physical mediums. In so doing, I learned a lot about myself and how I want others to play my story. In other words, I would recommend developing a game to commemorate a loved one. Although it will be painful, the personal growth and connections to others that will be made are worth the investment.

Questions? – If you have any more questions, please let me know. Healing Words has been a big part of my life in the last month. Thank you to the 50+ people who’ve played my game and helped me heal.

The featured image is provided CC0 by Moritz Schmidt via Unsplash.