Updated: Oct 13, 2019
What's going on everyone?
New to this Blog? You can follow along from the beginning by starting here.
Previous Week's Post: The post for Week 1 can be found here.
Want this Curriculum? You can find the full curriculum for this class here.
This Post Covers Days 4-5 of the Unit.
Days four and five focused on teaching characterization and point-of-view. Characterization is the creation or construction of a fictional character; a description of the distinctive nature or features of someone or something. I feel introducing characterization early on in any text is useful to help the students begin to build relationships with the characters. From my experience with English Language Learners, characterization is also one of the more accessible literary elements for them to write about on the New York Regents Exam in English Language Arts.
This student in particular has shown genuine interest in the story of the game. This might be because this is her first experience with a video game other than playing Mario. After finishing playing through the first floor of the house, this student had a pretty decent understanding of the characters presented in the game. She knows that Sam is having a difficult time and is shy. She discovered that Terrence, the father, is a writer, but is currently struggling to get a book published. She didn't learn too much about the mom, but noticed she works in agriculture. And she determined that Lonnie is "kind of a punk girl," which interests Sam because she never really resonated with people who fit the stereotype of being girly. From the four available journal entries in this section of the game, this student really got a greater understanding of why Sam is having a difficult time making friends. She was really only ever friendly with a neighbor and always struggled to be friends with other girls. In question 4, the student remarks how the main plot of this game focuses on "how difficult it is to be and to treat a teenager."Being a teenager is not easy, especially if you have a difficult time making friends.
One thing that could be improved upon in this lesson is more clarification around the main plot of the game and the various side stories that are also being told. This student has a clear understanding of the main plot regarding Sam and her interest in befriending Lonnie, but did not really address the side stories I asked about in question 4. There is also a sad story of a struggling father hoarding all of his unpublished books with letters insinuating he should give up being an author. This isn't my greatest concern since this student was still able to characterize Sam well. Looking at question 5 she even went on to explain how looking at the characters' actions in the context of the story helps her learn about their personalities.
For the next lesson, I wanted to focus on point-of-view. This works a little differently in video games than in a traditional text. A first person point-of-view video game literally puts you in the shoes of the main character. You see what they see. A third person point-of-view video game usually has you hovering above the main character. You still control all of their actions, but you can actually see their body. Gone Home is told in the first person. You play as the character Katie and experience the game as her.
When this student listened to Journal Entry 7, "Dealing With Roots," she mentioned that it was very "intimate." Sam finally found a friend in Lonnie, and the two of them are intimate in a way that Sam has not experienced before. This moment is intimate for the player as well since we are standing in the shoes of Sam's sister, Katie. It allows them to learn these details of Sam's life as if she was our own sister. Each of Sam's actions throughout this part of the game are very similar to those that many of us have made. And the feelings we have has Katie definitely resonate with anyone who has a younger sibling. Sam lied to her parents in order to go to a concert with Lonnie. How many of use have lied to our parents in order to sneak out somewhere? I know I have before. This student in question 3 mentions how she had to lie at the beginning of a relationship because she"did not want to tell them that I have a boyfriend." Bringing your relationship out into the public can be a scary thing, especially for many teenagers. This is one of the many reasons for playing Gone Home in the first person. It makes it easier for Katie, and the player, to connect and empathize with Sam's decisions. My student believes that the creators of this game "choose 1st person because they want to connect the character with it own story because it was better for her (Katie) to understand her fam."
Week 2 went way more smoothly than the first week. I think this is a result of the students now being more acclimated with the game itself. Instead of messing around with the controls, the students were able to explore more in the game and read more of the various letters and documents around the room. The conversations around Sam and the concept of identity were also strong. Next week we are going to greater explore the relationship between Sam and Lonnie.
Thanks for reading,
Next week's post can be found here.