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 5 can be found here.
Want this Curriculum? You can find the full curriculum for this class here.
This Post Covers Days 13-16 of the Unit.
Last week we finished playing Gone Home and we have moved on to our second game, Giant Sparrow's What Remains of Edith Finch. My students may think I am a little crazy. If you haven't played Edith Finch yourself yet, go watch a Youtube video of Molly's vignette in the game. It is not something that comes off as educational at first glance. After several days, however, they all unanimously enjoyed it more than Gone Home. In Edith Finch, you play as Edith, a young woman returning to her family home. She is the last surviving member of her family and has returned to learn how each member died. Each family member's death is told through a brief vignette. While I'm a fan of your usual point-and-click adventure game, I truly believe that Edith Finch is truly one of the most unique games out there.
Since the class ended Gone Home by writing a review, we started What Remains of Edith Finch by reading this review of the game from IGN. As always, I like to front load information before starting a new text because it helps my students- who are English Language Learners, retain information. After reading the review, we went and played the opening scene where you walk around the woods and road leading up to the Finch family house. I had them focus on the mood of the scene. Mood is a literary element that they can choose to write about for Part 3 of the New York Regents Exam in English Language Arts. There is this bittersweet feeling as you walk towards this long abandoned house. My students immediately felt like something has gone terribly wrong with this family.
The class played through Molly's vignette on Day 14. They got to spend some time exploring the home and learn about the setting. As mentioned before, Molly's story is pretty ridiculous. It starts with a hungry 10 year old girl eating anything she can find in her bedroom because her mom grounded her and wouldn't let her eat dinner. Through a first person perspective, the player finds themselves transformed into a cat through Molly's eyes, then an owl, a shark, and finally a sea monster. You eat rabbits, seals, and even people in this trippy depiction of Molly's death. You don't actually see Molly die, but you know that she died from food poisoning as a result of eating a number of non-edible items around her bedroom and bathroom. The story of her transforming was simply one long hallucination. My students had such a fun time with Molly's story and while it was ridiculous, it did set the stage for the rest of the game. The student above mentioned, "I think the stage for the rest of the game will be about how each of the gamily member passes away and what caused that fact."
Day 15 introduced the class to many more members of the Finch family. This was a great time to learn about characterization and how Giant Sparrow uses each characters' bedroom as a means developing their personalities. They also got to play through three more vignettes (Odin's, Calvin's, and Barbara's) during this session. The vignettes are where the game really shines. Each story is told through a different medium. This helps each story feel completely unique. Molly's was a hallucination, Odin's story is told through a reel viewer, Calvin's is a flashback, and Barbara's story was told as a comic book. You head to each person's bedroom, look around for a little while, and finally learn about their usually untimely death. My students didn't think I was as crazy as before after playing through this portion of the game. It was around here that my students started expressing how they like Edith Finch more than Gone Home.
Day 17 brought us to about the middle of the game. It is around here that we really begin to learn about the central idea of game. The lesson that is being taught. The game tells us that the Finch family is cursed. Only one member of each generation is able to survive and continue the family tree. After we learn about the death of Walter, Edith begins to grapple with the idea of this curse. This student pulled a quote from the game that they felt best depicted the central idea.
I’m worried the stories themselves might be the problem. Maybe we believed so much in a family curse. . . We made it real.
There were also certain pieces of dialogue that foreshadows Edith's potential pregnancy. Foreshadowing, central idea, characterization, setting, and mood can all be topics for their English Regents essay. The goal of this class is to get my students more familiar with these literary elements and rhetorical devices. They have historically struggled with writing about them, so my hope is that by applying games like Gone Home and Edith Finch to their learning, this will aid in their understanding. Playing Edith Finch with my class has been such a wonderful experience and I'm really looking forward to continuing the game with them. Hopefully they didn't go home over the weekend and spoil the rest of the story for themselves.
Thanks for reading,
Next week's post can be read here.