Updated: May 9, 2020
What's going on everyone?
It is rare that I get sucked into a game due to its relaxing tone. When I'm asked why I like to teach with video games, my answer has never been because they are relaxing. Kind Words, developed by Popcannibal, is a game I will find myself returning to because of how soothing and positive I feel when playing. You can find the lesson plan for Kind Words here.
Sometimes we just need to give our students time to be positive. School comes with a lot of stress and providing time for positivity can be a really refreshing experience. An easy way to do this is through free writing. Kind Words is a game that can aid in this process. The game provides the players with several opportunities to write. It is an online game where the player anonymously interact with everyone else playing. The player can send a letter out to the game’s community, respond to messages sent out by other players online, and can write up a concern of theirs for other players online to respond to. All of this is set to a playlist of Lo-Fi music beats. The game is set up to be as chill and relaxing as possible in order to build a sense of comfort for the player. There is no end goal of this game other than writing. This lesson will get students accustomed to thinking positively and provide a space to actually give advice to others in a completely non-threatening and anonymous setting. The game even provides links to mental health resources for any of the players that may need them.
I will have my students play together as a class when I teach this lesson in a couple of weeks. We will have the game projected in the front of the room so we can send and read letters together. This game can be very personal, so for the sake of this lesson, make it clear that the students should be writing something they are willing to share with their peers. Students are going to take turns “playing.” Choose a student to come up and have them partake in the following steps, and then repeat with each student in the class:
Each player will read out loud, one of the paper planes flying through the room in the game. Each plane has a message written by another player online.
Each player will write one nice thing on their own paper plane to send out to the online community.
Each player can share a concern they have with the game's community. Players online will eventually respond to these messages. We will play the game over two days, so during the second day they will actually get to read the responses to their message.
Each player will read a concern from an anonymous online player and then offer advice to them.
In Part 3, the students can share a concern they have- this is really the part I am looking forward to the most. They write their message down and send it out to everyone else playing Kind Words. Then over time, they will actually get responses from other players. When I wrote something myself, each and every response was extremely positive and reassuring. People actually took the time to write back to a complete stranger on the internet with the hopes of making me feel better. From here, I went on to offer my own advice to other players who also shared concerns of theirs to the game's player base. Offering advice is not always the easiest task. The game offered me a space to sit and think intently about how I wanted to respond to these strangers. My words after all, may end up having a big impact on someone's life. My hope is that my students will come away from this activity feeling as positive as I did when helping others without the expectation of receiving something in return. I always try to incorporate the teaching empathy in my classroom and I believe this is a great way to get your students feeling more empathetic towards others. One potential issue that could arise is an online troll who sends out hurtful messages. I haven't run into a single instance of this, but it is always a possibility when on the Internet. These messages can be reported, but my overall experience with the game indicates that this will most definitely not happen.
As therapeutic as writing can be, the game is heightened to a new level of relaxation due to its wonderful Lo-Fi music playing in the background. Lo-Fi music is meant to be relaxing as possible, often invoking a sense of nostalgia in the listener. Kind Words includes a wonderful original soundtrack that I would have loved to listen to when I was studying in the library during my college days. The music almost aids in your thinking and writing process.
Few games are successful in getting people to want to write. This is probably the first game I have played where I actively wanted to write more. Writing can be tough. This is especially true for my students who need to learn to read and write in English, a non-native language for them. I believe the safe and positive environment that Kind Words provides will help aid my students in this process.
Thanks for reading,