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Literature & Language Arts

Resourceful teachers, librarians, authors and publishers encourage students to read the companion novels or original literary sources on which computer games are based. Games that have related novels include: Myst, Doom, Assassin’s Creed 2, The Elder Scrolls, Gears of War, Halo, Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, and StarCraft. Many adventure games require players to read onscreen text to gain information that is vital to the gameplay. Complex games may require that players take notes, master a specialized vocabulary, and consult manuals or web pages.

Age of Mythology (mythology, ancient cultures) - Tales and legends about ancient gods and heroes that were passed down through history have been preserved through literary sources and now are replicated in computer games. In this real-time strategy game, players can take part in an epic tale inspired by the myths of three ancient cultures: Greek (Zeus, Hades, Poseidon), Egyptian (Ra, Isis, Set), and Norse (Loki, Thor, Odin). The interactive game play, both single and multiplayer, requires students to appease the gods and battle mythical creatures while building a lasting and successful civilization. The Titans Expansion Pack also includes the legend of Atlantis.

Dark Age of Camelot (mythology, legend, English literature, British history) – King Arthur is an important figure in the mythology of Great Britain. The legend of King Arthur has inspired and influenced artists, authors, and poets for centuries. This massively multiplayer online role playing game makes learning about King Arthur and the Round Table a fun and interactive experience. A player's manual introduces newcomers to the world of Camelot. Players will get a chance to see how mythology fits into the history of the British Isles, learn how legends grow over time, and get a sense of the warfare that took place during medieval England. The game also has several career and class paths from which to choose. Note: additional monthly fees are required to play this game.

FutureU: The SAT Prep Game (reading, vocabulary, writing, math, test prep) – Based on Kaplan curriculum, the SAT Prep Game provides a fun way to help high school students sharpen their critical thinking skills, build relevant knowledge, reduce test anxiety, and prepare for the SAT. FutureU has taken the concepts, theories and formulas behind the SAT questions and made them into a fun collection of interactive games. “Brain” game fans of any age will enjoy the challenge.

Liberty's Kids (journalism, note-taking, American history) - The Learning Company produced this game for students ages 7-12. It contains seven challenging re-playable events with more than 30 interactive characters. Players go on a scavenger hunt to collect missing objects and conduct interviews while answering Who, What, When, Where, Why and How questions. In doing so, they gather facts about major historical events such as the Boston Tea Party and the writing of The Declaration of Independence. This information is recorded in a notebook and later pieced together into a front-page newspaper story, so this game introduces children to journalism as well as American history. The CD-ROM also contains animated mini-movies, puzzles and games, quizzes, and a reference guide with a wealth of historical information.

Mission to Planet 429 (reading comprehension) - MP429 is an immersive, groundbreaking educational game designed to develop reading comprehension skills in young readers ages 6-8. Grounded in scientifically-based reading research, MP429 helps first- through third-grade students build their reading skills while having fun and fantastic adventures. Tested in schools and day camps around the country in the Summer of 2010, the game exceeded all expectations at teaching second and third graders how to navigate and process nonfiction text. MP429 is grounded in three core beliefs: 1. Learning should be a fun and engaging experience for children. 2. New skills are best learned in contexts where children are able to actively use these new skills. 3. Children need to be supported and "scaffolded" as they learn new skills and knowledge. MP429 provides unlimited practice opportunities for children to participate in self-directed missions through a rich 3D browser-based virtual world where they have to figure things out using a variety of informational sources. The corresponding Classroom Applications Guide provides teachers with additional activities, reading materials, and websites. Nukotoys developed MP429 in partnership with WTTW Chicago, The Director’s Bureau, and the U.S. Department of Education. The game can be found on PBS Kids Go.

Morrowind (characterization, storyline, literature) - Morrowind, part of The Elder Scrolls series, is a completely free-form world in which players are able to go anywhere and explore, without necessarily following the main quest. As in the other Elder Scrolls games, players can create the kind of character they want, and then do whatever they want without being forced to go down a certain path. Another unique thing about Morrowind is the fact that in-game literature is a major part of the player's interaction with the world. The game contains over 300 books full of stories, historical accounts, and background information. Many of these books were reused in Oblivion.

Rings of Orbis (science fiction, fantasy, reading comprehension) – A free, online, role-playing science fiction game based on The Softwire Novels written by PJ Haarsma. The author designed the game to spark an interest in his novels, extending the fictional world and allowing readers to enter into it. The game also gives players an incentive to read, because they must answer questions with information from the novels in order to solve puzzles and advance within the game.

3D-Readers (reading comprehension, vocabulary, writing skills) - The NeuronFarm is a research-based educational software company dedicated to the creation of quality web-based applications to increase literacy for students in grades 3-8. Their flagship product, "3D-Readers," combines interactive visuals with engaging text. It's based on the concept that learners who generate their own questions, answers, summaries, and creative visualizations remember new information better.

The Sims (character development, storytelling) – A spinoff of SimCity, The Sims is now the best-selling PC game of all time. In general, the Sims franchise is more entertaining than educational. But Veronaville, one of the three default scenarios for The Sims 2, places the player in control of a neighborhood inhabited by various characters extracted from Shakespearean plays. More notably, the Story Exchange on the Sims 2 and Sims 3 official sites let players write their own stories and share them, which has resulted in several hundred-thousand literary creations in many different genres, from dramas and comedies to documentaries and biographical accounts. This shows that it would be a good idea for educators to take advantage of the Sims' popularity for a variety of instructional purposes.

Honors Project © 2011 by Peter Olsen, Mesa Community College, CIS107 Electronic Game Industry.