Game-Based Learning in the Literature Classroom

Apache playing cards (either Chiricahua or Western), ca. 1875-1885, rawhide, Arizona, collection of the National Museum of the American Indian

For the past few years I’ve been reading here and there about games in the classroom. The most provocative example I’ve found is Reacting to the Past, a role-playing game designed at Barnard College that has students inhabit historical events. The idea is that the game inspires students to prepare much more thoroughly than they would for a lecture or exam.

I’ve been puzzling over how to implement a similar structure in a literature classroom, but have been so busy keeping afloat with new class preps and writing my book that it’s been a back-burner project. The idea is creeping to a simmer, though, as I’ve been involved in GOBLIN at OU and found a critical mass of gaming enthusiast friends who’ve helped me to think it through.

I came across an especially exciting model today: the USC School of Cinematic Arts’ “Reality Ends Here” game. The way it gives students autonomy to decide what deals they’ll do, encourages collaboration, and also avoids imposing the game but rather lets students play of their own volition are really exciting elements.

Maybe an Introduction to Hispanic Literature and Culture course could give mega points to a group of students that produces a radio drama version of a short story, or a few points for updating a Wikipedia article on a literary movement.

Any ideas you might have are very welcome in the comments.

4 thoughts on “Game-Based Learning in the Literature Classroom

  1. Keegan

    I was thinking maybe having students develop their own nations and cultures, drawing from Hispanic cultures you are studying in class. Using something like Nation States (, would make it easy to facilitate such a project. I haven’t played since 2003, (just joined again to try it out before suggesting), but it looks like it would be fun.

    In other words, I was thinking having students blend cultures together and build assignments about analyzing their own countries versus real ones ore each others.

    Just an idea!

  2. Adam Croom

    I actually visited USC and saw Reality in action as well as talk to the guy who invented it. I think it’s absolutely genius and the complexity of the deals plus the incentives for doing group (particularly interdisciplinary groups) was very appealing.


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