10.4 Narrative, Challenge and Game Space

Big Ideas for this lesson 
Guiding Questions          
Recommended Games     
Challenges can be created in various ways within Gamestar Mechanic, one of them being qualities of the game space.

Game spaces can have narrative dimensions.
What are the different ways that the space of a game can be designed to create challenge for the player? Orion The Tiny One

Nocturne Hedges

What's on for today:

Game space is a container for many different forms of game challenge, yet not all challenges are appropriate to the particular qualities of a space. Similarly, certain narratives are supported by certain kinds of game spaces. Within this lesson students explore the narrative capacities of a game space and the types of challenge it can support.

What you need:

-One copy of the “example showing how to join three screenshots to create a single image” per student

What's attached:

-example showing how to join three screenshots to create a single image


Total: 1 hour and 20 minutes

Warm Up - 20 minutes
Design - 20 minutes
Playtest and Iterate - 20 minutes
Circle Up - 20 minutes

Warm Up
20 minutes

1. Print a few screenshots from different games in Game Alley. The games could be side scrollers or vertical scrollers or top down games.

2. In the case of scrolling games, join multiple screenshots of the game to show the entire game space (example included).

3. Divide students into groups and give each group a set of screenshots.

4. Have them analyze the game space and come up with a story that they think is being told in the game. Ask them to come up with:

A description of who the characters in the game are or what they represent. For example, a king seeking lost treasure, or a boy on his way to the airport.

Where the game is taking place or the kind of environment it is showing. For example, in a garden, underwater, in a castle, in a city.

A title for the game.

5. Have each group share their ideas with the class. Discuss how they came up with their ideas. What clues or inspirations did they find in the screenshots?

20 minutes

1. Divide students into pairs and have them write down five opening sentences to a story. For ex- ample, “Once upon a time there was a man lost in space.” Or, “The giant loved to eat dots.” Or, “It was night time and everyone was asleep when they heard a noise.”

2. Collect the openers, mix them up, and have students pick one to work with. The goal is to make sure students have starters they feel inspired by, so use whatever method is appropriate to your class to make sure this happens.

3. Challenge each student to design a game space in Gamestar Mechanic based on a story idea they picked. They should use only block sprites to do this.

4. Remind the students to use the game label to title their game, and to write an introductory nar- rative on the intro screen to the level.

5. Have students exchange game spaces and stories with their partners (the easiest way to do this is just have them swap seats at the comput- ers). Tell them that they are now charged with designing game play for the level and that there are two rules they must follow:

They cannot move any of the sprites added by their partner to create the game space.

They must add game play to the space through the introduction of an avatar, enemies, items, and system sprites.

Sticking to these two rules is not an easy task, so encourage students to keep track of places where they get stuck or want to make changes.

Playtest and Iterate

20 minutes

1. Have the partners swap games and playtest them.

2. Then working together (here it is best if they sit at the same keyboard and monitor together), the partners should discuss any changes that might be made to either the game space or game play, and make those changes together for each game created. Teams must work together to negotiate what elements are modified or changed.

Circle Up
20 minutes

1. Have each team show their games to the rest of the class.

2. Encourage discussion around the following:

What is the story of your game? How did you design your game space and game label to tell the story?

What was challenging about designing the game play for a game space designed by someone else?

What kinds of adjustments did you and your teammate end up making?

How did it go?

Did the students create a story for their game?

Were they able to use the game label and intro and outro screens in purposeful ways to support the narrative?

Did they have a productive collaboration?

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Jan 4, 2011, 8:26 AM