Year 8 taste Interactive Fiction

After dabbling with Python, my Year 8 class who are open to trying anything (my guinea pigs) had a go with my first IF game, Escape from Byron Bay.

Being new to Interactive fiction I gave them the basics of keywords, inventory, character and how you are placed in a scenario from which you take the wheel in controlling the game. After much discussion, debugging, and tweaking with @KristianStill the game now incorporates a timer so players can compare game times after completion.

Pupils initially read the scenario and looked around, eagerly dashing in and out of rooms checking everything out as if they were a hamster in a brand new home. Shortly afterwards, confusion set in amongst a few as the couldn’t fathom where they were to find the items needed to progress. This was overcome by theconstant chattering of pupils revealing what they had just discovered followed by screams of “How?” and “Where?”

Within fifteen minutes, the room was a hive of activity with ALL pupils on task. As usual with this game, the third part of the code was proving difficult to locate, but without giving any clues, three pupils found it in quick succession with 15 minutes to spare. The quickly got through the escape hatch, got in the helicopter and they were out of there!

The rest, not wanting to be outdone were frantically typing to locate the the codes.

Below are some of the comments sent via Twitter and email after the lesson.

Lauren said “it was really good and i enjoyed playing it
it was really stressfull though at the same time
:P”

Charlie said “It was a fun game it just made my head spin :s”

Liam said “Great text adventure game hard to understand at the beginning but when you know what options you have it gets really easy ,thanks!”

Dorothy said “It was hard but i was determined to finish it once i started it. I would really like to play games like this again.”

Blue said “I think that the game really tested people in their thinking skills, I personally thought it was great!:)”

It’s clear that tasks like this, pitched at the right audience serve to totally engage a class. Pupils commented on how it ‘got them thinking’. The educational benefits are enormous touching on literacy, problem solving, thinking skills and computer science when it comes to the design aspect.

As an old school IF player, I’m now reeling with excitement at not only the thought of creating another great mini game for pupils to break their teeth on but also teaching the planning and creation of such games. If you haven’t heard of Interactive Fiction before, bookmark this post, this is going to be huge in the coming months.

Get yourself started now by downloading Quest from www.textadventures.co.uk, thanks to Alex Warren. Thanks also to Kristian Still for lots (and lots) of guidance and advice. Watch out for our collaboration in the near future. Heaven knows how a game developed miles apart by two individuals will pan out but I’m sure it will be great fun!

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