Recently, I built a web app using WordPress and the Random Content plugin to convert the Epic Heroes card game into an open, online version that can be played synchronously over video chat or in person with out needing to print out the cards.

You can see the web app by navigating to epicheroes.keeganslw.com on your phone or computer:

How Does It Work?

This web app instantly serves you three Epic Hero cards to use as a storytelling prompt for reflection of your own professional projects and experiences in the context of the Hero’s Journey. Previous players have used this challenge as an opportunity to contemplate their current instructional design practices and imagine new possibilities in their own courses. Others have unearth holes in online student support programs and playing has even given some instructors the opportunity to share favorite aspects of their own curriculum. That’s the goal of Epic Heroes, to serve as a storytelling framework, to then discuss the role of storytelling in our work with our peers, to push our thinking further when considering how we engage students in their own education.

Another goal when constructing this web app was designing the cards to be more accessible than their physical counterparts. Consequently, each of the digital cards is accompanied by descriptive alt text, which narrates the descriptions and prompts and provides contextual details such as the stage of the card within the twelve steps of the Hero’s Journey. I tested this crucial part of the game using several devices and web browsers—even Windows Edge! The web app was also stripped of any unnecessary elements to streamline the experience for all players.

On The Journey

In bringing Epic Heroes online, I’m most EXCITED about the accessibility features that I could integrate into the game. In the past, when I’ve built card games, I’ve struggled with accessible engagement; without braille writing supplies (or the know-how to use them), digital tools are my best option at the moment. With this online card system I’m more confident about bringing these game-based experiences to everyone.

The true power of Epic Heroes comes from its ability to quickly break down social barriers and yield rich information exchange between both complete strangers and close colleagues. Being led by storytelling into discussion provides players with common language and atypical scenarios, which together, unlock ideas for players to examine how we can improve online education. Additionally, as a game, Epic Heroes gives players an invitation and structure that ensures everyone gets a turn to make their voice heard. All of this nuance contributes to why I enjoy leading groups through game play. With this web app complete, now myself and others can more easily dive into the Hero’s Journey as a reflective and creative exercise.

The Call To Adventure

This web app was first used in a Monomyth Online webinar for the Office for Digital Learning and Inquiry at Middlebury College alongside the fabulous Angela, Krys, Ryan, and John. It was later adapted for a second storytelling game that Krys and I hosted to engage presenters of the gamified sessions at OLC Accelerate 19.

If you’re interested, Epic Heroes is available for download, openly licensed, and remix-able. Learn more from this previous post.

One final note about building this web app, I recognize that it could be optimized if it was build with something like JavaScript instead of a CMS. But I need to learn more coding for that. 😆 (PS this is why programs like Domain of One’s Own have become a critical piece of my life—I can build ludicrous web tools in my own domain space—student’s should have this same opportunity to tinker!)

Enjoy Epic Heroes!

4 cards from the the Establishing Epic Heroes game


Epic Heroes
 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

The featured image is provided freely by Brooke Cagle via Unsplash.

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