Nels Bergquist: Inform and Eighth-Grade English

Nels Bergquist’s eighth-grade English class uses Inform in a creative writing exercise: students work together to produce complete, winnable games.

Mr. Bergquist’s assignment includes detailed instructions on how to prepare a game design document, including both story and game elements. To develop story, students write paragraphs describing the setting and at least three characters to be incorporated in the narrative, as well as a synopsis of the major challenge the player character will face. To develop the game structure, students create detailed maps, listing the characters and objects to be found in each place. Each game must feature at least three game endings, of which at least one must be a victory condition.

Programming begins only after this preliminary work. Mr. Bergquist provides in-class guidance on coding development, introducing new code concepts at regular intervals. The sample code is collected into an example code sheet, available as a resource for everyone. Some students delve further into the manual, and contribute their own solutions to the example sheet.

Results of the assignment are evaluated in terms of their ideas and content, organization, and prose style.

Mr. Bergquist has kindly shared with us a video of his students at work.