Why You Should Teach With Elegy for a Dead World

Updated: Feb 22

What's going on everyone?

Elegy for a Dead World is a game I've been meaning to write about for a long time. I've had it sitting in my library for two years but I am only just now getting around to it. That was a mistake. This game needs to be known by more teachers and used in more schools. Elegy for a Dead World is a game about writing. Its only goal is to inspire its players to write creatively. They can do so on their own, or they can let the game hold their hand during the process. You can find my lesson plan here.

Video games are dramatically diverse these days. There are many games out there that do not even require the player to actually “play”. Elegy for a Dead World is one of these games. Who knew writing can be fun? Elegy contains three distinct worlds that the player can visit. From there, the player simply writes stories inspired by the new environments that surround them. You can choose to write free form and write whatever comes to mind, or the player can choose from a number of writing prompts to get them started. Just like a teacher in a classroom, the game will provide sentence starters and leaves spaces blank for the player to fill in. Think of this as an advanced version of mad libs. Sometimes a sentence starter is all a student needs to tap into their inner creativity.

Even more fun is that a lot of the prompts are pulled from famous poems and stories. One might find themselves filling in the blanks to Percy Bysshe Shelley’s "Ozymandias" or to H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. These provide different approaches toward creating unique narratives like letters to a loved one, poetry, or even a historical account. There is even a grammar practice mode where the player is tasked with correcting incorrect grammar in a prewritten story. Elegy does a wonderful job at providing a framework for students to create interesting and unique stories. Getting students to write can be tough. Why not try using a video game to get them to engage more with their own literacy?

In Elegy, you are able to travel to three different worlds. It is up to you to write stories about the societies and civilizations that once inhabited these worlds. An elegy is a lament for the dead, after all. That may seem sad, but the stories one writes do not necessarily need to be depressing. One can easily write a beautiful tale about the peoples of these planets in the same way one might write about our own past fallen civilizations. One can soak up the scenery and write whatever comes to mind, or let the game guide you in the creative writing process. I myself am not a great creative writer so I have always opted for including writing prompts and sentence starters.

Per Elegy's page on Steam

"Explore 27 different writing challenges, through which you create narratives about the worlds you visit, from multiple perspectives. In one challenge, you play an archaeologist, uncovering clues and writing about a city's final days; in another, you're a thief, composing a song about searching the wreckage for valuables; and in another, you're a bard penning a lament in rhyming couplets."

Many people just need the proper learning environment in order to directly access the content. The developers created Elegy to make creative expression more accessible. They've created an environment in which non-writers can tell stories. Don't believe me? Here is a something I wrote in the game.

I'm not sure if this is a short story, a poem, or an elegy, but I wrote it (with some sentence starters). I'm a reluctant writer. Writing is not something I'm really great at doing. My wife has secretly been editing these posts for the past two years. She even pointed out I have a typo in my above example. I guarantee that several, if not most, of the students in your class are reluctant writers as well. Using this game will get some of them writing and more importantly, some of them will be writing for fun. And school really needs to just be a little bit more fun.

Thanks for reading,


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