New “videogames as literature” class innovative, rigorous way of teaching students

Shayna Leonard

Some students desire a way of learning that suits their interests and abilities. Unfortunately, teaching tactics today don’t work easily and efficiently for everyone. However, there is hope. And this hope is called Videogames as Literature.

“We have shifted the regular English curriculum into something more engaging,” Scott Clapp, head of the English department and teacher of the class, said.

A new class this year, Videogames as Literature is an English 7-8 option for seniors that uses outside media such as videogames incorporated into teaching methods.

Twenty-one students participate in the class, and parts of the curriculum include reading “The Things They Carried,” a memoir about Vietnam and playing the famous” Call of Duty: Black Ops”.

Although they are playing videogames, the focus is much more than that.

Clapp’s class has been focusing mainly on the heroic cycle, a way of following the epic of a hero, and intertextuality, using videogames as a springboard to literature.

Even though Clapp said he is far from an expert, he hopes to make the learning “rigorous and relevant” and “applying it to real life.”

However, Clapp is most excited about their upcoming project.

“We are planning to design a full-blown game design document,” Clapp said. “Eventually writing a full storyline for a videogame, designing it, and then doing a pitch of the game.”

He plans to have each student pitch an idea, and then have the class vote on what they think would be a good game idea. Then, each leader will recruit a team of designers, writers, and artists who will make the game come to life, creating a 150-200 page game design document.

He wants the design teams to be “very thoughtful” and “not haphazard.”

“I actually know some people in the gaming industry whom I will have come in and listen to your pitch,” Clapp said. This gives each student in the class a genuine opportunity to be creative, professional, and able to have a real-world experience.

Senior Tyler Santy, a huge fan of the “Call of Duty” series and avid gamer, really enjoys the class.

“The fact that it shows that not all adults are anti-technical,” he said. “People are realizing videogames have positive influences.”

“All videogames are 21st century novels,” he said.

Clapp said that most of the faculty at CMR likes the class; however, he hasn’t had a lot of parent input.

“Every teacher realizes you guys are wired differently,” he said.

“I live for the ‘Aha!’ moment,” he said. “The moment when you guys said ‘I so get it.’”

Clapp believes that students can really learn from gameplay.

“There is a richness to that gaming design that goes beyond the surface details.”