Student Story Frames of Video Games


Yesterday, I had my sixth graders blogging about the “story frames” of the science-based video games they are developing. I’ve been pushing the narrative element as a way to keep their games coherent and focused, even as they work the concept of geology into their games. Each day, I have tried to make the metaphorical connection for them – that their video game is really a short story, and that the player is really the reader, and how as writers/designers, they are bringing someone else into their story.

Check out some of the descriptions of the stories underpinning their games:

My game project is about the layers of the earth. You have to start out in the inner core and make your way out of the earth to the crust before you reach your DOOM! You need to find your way through each level without dying. You go through the inner and outer core the lower and upper mantle and the crust. CAN YOU SURVIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! — Ally

You’re out gathering berries for supper when suddenly the ground is shaking! The supercontinent you live on, Pangaea, is breaking up! Continental drift is cracking up the world as you know it! What you don’t realize is that your family is on one side of the breaking line and you’re on the other! Get back to them before it’s too late and you’re separated forever! The earth is stirring, and Mother Earth’s monsters are out to get you! Watch out for volcanos, tsunamis, and whatever else is lying in wait! Hurry! — Rebecca

Your master, Alfred Wegner, has just sent you into the earth to rescue his daughter, Laila, from the core. This game has 6 levels, and you must reach the goal block on every level. You may not survive!!! Bwaa-ha-ha!!! — Sarah

Your are trying to get to the sun to stop your enemy from blowing the sun up. You start with Pluto and planet after planet you get to the sun. Once you get to the sun you will defeat your enemy. There will be 13 levels in the game. — David

My video game idea is about the layers of the earth. The world is ending and monsters are climbing from the core to the crust and they are wreaking havoc. To stop them you must travel to the center of the earth to stop the world from ending. — Anthony

You are a scientist trying to be the first person to the center of the earth. You must travel through each layer of the earth so you can collect the proof that you made it to the center of the earth. You need to collect the Ultimate artifact that is only in the center of the earth. It will give you the power….you will find out in the game what it is. Then you must fight through enemies to reach the surface. — John

My game is made around the layers of the earth. it will have at least 6 levels some are hard and some are easy. you will travel through the earth or out of the earth to save yourself or someone else. If you don’t get down there fast enough and save the person a bomb placed by the evil fruit king will blow up you and everyone on the earth will die. So what are you waiting for ? Go save the world! — Rebecca

My project is that you are on a cruise and your ship sinks.You need to get home. You are forced to conquer the plates while they are moving around. Mazes and jumping puzzles will slow you down. — Jacob

My game is based on the layers of the earth. what your trying to do is to play as wacky weggy and get to the middle of the earth to get the proof saying that the earth was once whole. But you must hurry because there is a time limit on a couple of levels and you have to collect all the gems and defeat the monster’s. Don’t lose all your health or game over. — Tattie

My game design is about Pangaea and the large ocean around it. The large ocean is called the Panthalassic ocean. When what today we call North America and Africa come together you were smooshed and shot through the different layers of the Earth, the crust, mantle and core. Now that you are on the other side of the Earth you will have to face many challenges to get back to Pangaea!! — Tyler


I’m looking forward to the emergence of these stories as games … and games as stories.

Peace (inside the game),



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  1. This is so fascinating to me. I would never have thought to blend so many worlds: literature and science through the use of video games. Do you feel that the students are able to grasp all of these different elements? Or do they focus on one and the rest gets pushed? Also how do the students pick their topic; Some described the layers of the earth, while others focus on plate tectonics, etc.?

    • Good questions
      As for science themes, they have a choice but it has to fall within the Geology unit they are now studying in science.
      Does one element gets pushed aside? Maybe. I try to keep them focused on all of them, and we do work around the various ideas (story, science, game play) as a learning experience. Some students really rise up for this challenge; others have difficulty.

  2. this is very cool i would love to learn this in my school if we had the software to make video games and i think it would be a great learning experience for all of us

  3. Pingback: What we found lately: Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013 « Democratizing Composition

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