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I know this is late, but I wanted to post one of my student’s Game Development Documentary. (I was delayed as I was getting permission to post and she was editing.) This was written on May 15, 2009 by a student without prompting or request. I felt compelled to share it and after you read it, I think you will understand why. Here it is:
Sixth Grade Game Development Documentary 1
Written About: Rountree Sixth Grade Students
Written By: Brianna
Our Rountree students have been developing an alternate reality game the last six weeks of school We are just beginning development, but will finish with great excitement and a positive attitude! This documentary will help all players that play our game and give them clues while playing the game. Our game does not have a name, but will with the process. Our game is about four main characters, two teens and two adults. Their names are Brooke Summers, Kyle, Damonte Ramirez, and another woman with no name yet. Let me explain our characters, Brooke is from New York, New York and is a very snooty person. She is fifteen and a half and also rich. She somehow knows stuff about the island. She gets mysterious text messages from her cell phone that barely works. Kyle on the other hand is a pilot who flew the plane to the island. He is also prone to accidents, so something will most likely happen to him the game. Damonte is a “G” from Compton, California and he is sixteen. He is known as a bad kid and always is stirring up trouble. The other adult woman is divorced and lost her close loved one. She is sort of quiet and out of the picture thou [sic], for now at least. The island is very weird. Every bad thing that happens on Manhattan Island happens on our island. For instance if there is a water plant in Manhattan then there’s a fresh water source on the island in that same exact spot on our island. We are now working on the plot of the game. We think it will go something like this: Every person is on the island for a reason and some how it will change your life. The island is out of balance and needs someone or something to put it back in balance. Our characters have to travel back in time and go to different desinations on the island to put in secret codes. To get a code, you have to answer a ratio and proportion question. You have to go to all the destinations, come back in time, and be able to somehow get off the island. This game is in our hands and with enough imagination we can make a game of all games. Our game is the first alternate reality game to be on the internet thru [sic] K-twelfth grade. Our imagination is bigger than undergraduates. (Not saying our game is better.) I can’t wait to journal you in again on what sixth grade is doing and how our game is coming. With the amazing help of the best math teacher in the world Julie McLeod, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE FOR FUTURE GENERATION MATH!
The students voted on a title for our game: 1 Destination. With every decision, there are usually a few kids who grumble. I try to remind them that they all chose to accept the decisions of others and move on and that they would not be getting their way on everything. So far, that has seemed to work.
Students are also beginning work on their videos which introduce the problems to the players. They are using the xtranormal site where I recorded the newscast of the plane crash for their example beginning. We are just using the free portion so we have some limitations. One limitation is that the videos can only have 2 characters. So, any scene that the students wrote with more than 2 characters has to be broken into pieces or changed. That hasn’t seemed to bother the kids though. One issue I’m trying to resolve is the background on the video. Xtranormal only has backgrounds that show some type of civilization. Makes sense for most videos, but ours needs to be a deserted island! So, we are using the green screen and I’m going to spend some time this weekend to see if I can figure out how to replace the green screen with a background of our choice. I would LOVE to use a student drawing as the background. We’ll see!
One group is working on how the website will look online and how the players will interact. The example I had created last weekend really got them thinking. They went in a totally different direction though. I was thinking that we would basically walk the players through our storyline sequentially. The group wanted it set up much more like a website with random access to the game and other interesting information. They drew pictures with their thoughts about each web page — just like professional web designers do! Here are their pictures:
This would be the title page or the splash page. The students were in the process of voting on the title so on each page, the group just wrote “Title”. The big box says “Play if you dare!”. When you click on it, you go to the game.
The game page is a map of the island. There will be hotspots that have the four problems that the players need to help solve. They will also have a “Clue Mountain” where the players can get hints.
Directly underneath the title, there are four links that players can visit: Manhattan, News, Game and Interviews. This is the Manhattan page. It will tell about all the strange coincidences between Manhattan Island and our crazy island.
This is the News page which will have links to the news stories on Manhattan island.
This is where they would like to have the video clips of the character interviews we did in class. I’ll have to get permission from the students parents though. We’ll see how that goes.
Overall, I think they are doing an excellent job!
The students have been asking me what this will look like online. I haven’t been really sure yet but it has been evolving with the story line! I like the distributed nature of The Door that Dr. Warren created, but with the way most districts block social networking type sites, this game might have to be a little more contained in traditional web pages.
This weekend, I spent some creating a sandbox (a play area where we can experiment with some of the ways we might like to see the game unfold online). You can experience the sandbox yourself by clicking here. For this post, I’ll discuss the tools and thinking I used with a few screen shots.
For the first page, I called the game Coincidence? because of the connection with the Hudson River plane crash and Manhattan’s problems. The kids have not decided on a name yet so that certainly may change! I put together a little video clip that is supposed to represent a newscast of the Hudson River crash and the related disappearance of our plane. For this video, I used the xtranormal site to create the newscaster part of the video. Xtranormal is a neat (and free) site that takes text and turns it into video. I also found the simulation of that Hudson River crash with the actual pilot/control tower audio on youtube. I downloaded both videos and then spliced them together using Adobe Elements.I then uploaded the video to vimeo because youtube is blocked in most districts.
After players watch the video, they are invited to click the link to learn more about the coincidence. The link takes them to the next page of the game here.
On this page, Brooke’s phone begins to act strangely. She picks up Kyle’s (the pilot) plea for help. At the end of the video, there is a URL for the next step in the game which might be the first problem – housing!
For this page, I used digital photos of my son’s The Sims 2 Castaway game and Photostory. I uploaded the video to vimeo again. I also found a digital photo of a cell phone on istockphoto. I spliced the phone so that I could embed the video into the screen of the cell phone. I also took an island shot and put it on as the background of the photo.
Of course, if the students like these ideas, I’ll have them actually write the script, record the audio, etc. I’m sure it will be much better when they do it! Even if the students want to change the whole thing, I thought it might be helpful to others to show our progression and to discuss the tools and techniques. Any comments?