Games I Use At School

Recommendations by Herr Rau (München, Germany)

I teach German, English and Computer Sciences and find IF useful in all subjects.

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IFforL2, June 18, 2014 - Reply
The title of your list caught my attention. I hope to see more lists like this in the future. Please tell me which games you use for teaching English. Thanks so much.
Herr Rau, April 25, 2020 - Reply
Uh, six years later, sorry about that... still interested?
IFforL2, April 27, 2020 - Reply
Ha! That is too cool! I entirely forgot about my request. Yes, I'd love it if you'd expand your recommended list on this database. I'm still an English teacher in Asia and still use IF for teaching from time to time. I find the easiest IF domain language for beginners is Squiffy. It has its own easy-to-learn markdown mechanics and is a good gateway drug to JavaScript and HTML.
Herr Rau, April 27, 2020 - Reply
I've used Inform 7 in a computer science class as a miniature bonus project at the end of the year, just a handful of rooms and objects and one or two puzzles. No playtesting, and little idea of what a good game should be like, but that wasn't my goal.

I use the occasional game when I have to spontaneously substitute for another teacher in a lesson, though it's a German game most of the time.

I did teach a course on computer games, where two students turned a short story into a game, Twine and Inform 7, the last one sadly unfinished. (Bradbury, The October Game, and Poe, Tell-Tale Heart, both very suitable, as I thought.)

So so far my focus has been, if at all, on producing games rather than playing. I teach English, German and computer science. I think it would be hard work to get my students to willingly play interactive fiction and analyse it. They know little enough about the rules that make up traditional fiction as it is.

That is, in normal circumstances. Right now, under lockdown (to future readers: a Corona virus pandemic forcing public life to shut or slow down all over the world, including schools), I'm working from home, and so are my students. I've got a group of 15-year-olds, teach all of them in English as a second language and most of them in computer science. We had been starting to read Coraline by Neil Gaiman before the lockdown.

We're turning it into a work of interactive fiction of sorts. I call it "walk-in novel", and find the book and its plot very suitable - few characters, confined surroundings, yet a spirit of exploration, typical game-like tasks. I've created the rooms, and students are in the process of writing descriptions for the rooms and objects. They're meant to lift phrases verbatim from the book as much as they want, but of course can add extra objects. In the book, most of the objects and rooms have a kind of mirror existence in a kind of mirror world, so they get two names and descriptions, one slightly off or spooky. I'm collecting the descriptions via a kind of database, so if the students understand my instructions properly, it shouldn't be too much trouble producing Inform 7 things from that.
IFforL2, May 2, 2020 - Reply
That sounds exciting! Coraline is the perfect choice. Thank you for this conversation. I look forward to seeing your finished product.
Herr Rau, August 16, 2020 - Reply
Here's the game:
IFforL2, August 17, 2020 - Reply
Thanks, I'm looking at it now!
Herr Rau, August 17, 2020 - Reply
It's not quite finished, that is, the ending feels a bit rushed, and it lacks detail - but at some point, classes began again, and then the school year was over. Also, there are obviously many different voice's in the text - Neil Gaiman's, mine, the students'.
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