• Zack

The Walking Simulator: Week 5

Updated: Nov 20, 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 4 can be found here.

Want this Curriculum? You can find the full curriculum for this class here.


This Post Covers Days 10-11 of the Unit.

I was a little behind on keeping this class updated so I am writing this post about Week 5 a couple of days after writing about Week 4. In the previous class we finished playing through Gone Home. Students had taken notes detailing their thoughts of the game and its ending, of which they needed to bring to the following class (Day 10). They would use these notes for their Socratic Seminar. Whenever I run a Socratic in class, I provide space for my students to record the answers and thoughts of their classmates. I do this because they are all English Language Learners and recording what each other says helps build their listening skills. For this specific discussion, there was no driving question. It was simply a way for them to share how they felt about the game. So most of the discussion revolved around what they liked or didn't like about Gone Home.

It was really great sitting back and letting my students just talk for about 30 minutes. During my Socratics, I typically refrain from any participation unless the class gets distracted and I need to get them back on track. I sat in the corner of the room and just video taped them for an entire half hour. They were so eager to share their thoughts that there was never a lull in the conversation. They especially wanted to share their feelings on Sam and Lonnie's ultimate choice to run away together. The general consensus seemed to be that they understood the decision to run away, but that it was naive to do so because they are too young. This actually ended up being one of the more engaging lessons of the unit even though we didn't play any games on this day. I've also been acting as a living guidebook to the game for a couple of weeks so it was really nice to not be relied on in any capacity for a change.


I always follow up Socratic Seminars with an essay. This lets the students take the information from the seminar and implement it into a writing sample. For Day 11, I had my students write their own review of the game, as if they writing for a website or magazine.


If you can, zoom in and give this student's review a read. Whenever I talk about why I like to teach with video games, this student comes to mind. This student absolutely hates writing. They are not the strongest writer and it is often difficult to get something substantial out of him. Everything changed when I bring a game into class. He sat down and wrote non-stop for 45 minutes. Almost 3 pages detailing his feelings on the game as a whole. He becomes a completely different student when he gets the chance to write about things he is passionate about. He spoke about which aspects of the game he enjoyed like the story, graphics, and the first person perspective. And he criticized the length of the game, wishing that it was longer, and the fact that the character in the game can't run- which made certain parts of the game feel slow. He ultimate rated the game an 8.7/10, a pretty good review for a student typically obsessed with fighting games.


This final week with Gone Home really cemented the fact that teaching this class was a good idea. When I asked this student if I should teach this game again to future students he said, "yes because can teach many things in class." His answer could have been more fleshed out, but it is nice to know that my students believe playing through the game was a good use of time.


In the next lesson we are going to start playing the second game of the unit, What Remains of Edith Finch developed by Giant Sparrow. I am really excited because it is one of my favorite games of all time. It pulls a lot of inspiration in its mechanics and gameplay from Gone Home, but it is unparalleled in its storytelling and narrative.


Thanks for reading,

Zack


Next week's post can be read here.

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