From Paper to Pixel: Exploring Game Worlds to Encouraging Literacy

Authors: James Butler*, Lancaster University, Sally Bushell, Lancaster University
Topics: Environmental Perception, Cultural Geography, Cartography
Keywords: videogames, education, literacy, islands, play
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Calvert Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

This paper will discuss the underlying methodology, research goals, and mechanical development of our innovative educational resource - LITCRAFT - that seeks to explore new interactive forms of literary engagement as a means of encouraging literacy through the use of interactive tasks within carefully recreated scaled insular settings in Minecraft. Our process involves the adaptation of texts which: a) feature on UK and US curricula, b) contain authorial maps of the narrative environment, and c) permit narrative-related tasks that connect with key stage learning criteria. The key point of distinction from other digital literary resources is that we provide an iterative model that uses the base text to frame and contextualise complementary in-game tasks, using a level of immersion, empathic roleplay, and ludic experience to introduce transferrable critical and creative concepts, offering a new means of engagement that particularly supports 'reluctant readers'. Minecraft's open gameplay style comprises two core components: building and exploration, both of which we utilise in our crafted experiences, using game world interactivity to examine the artistic representation of environment and landscape within textual settings through direct experience. Individual lesson modules focus on compositional elements, such as emblematic features, key descriptors, topographic semantics, cartographic information, names, etc. Our material is freely distributed, and has been promoted extensively by Minecraft.Edu. The resource is intended as a user-friendly interactive introduction to a range of literary-led environmental studies for primary and secondary school-aged audiences; an approach made possible only through using a recognisable (nigh ubiquitous, to the audience) game engine.

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