Resources by Subject Matter

The various resources here are generously donated and (where appropriate) maintained by their authors. If you have tutorial materials that you would like to contribute, either for inclusion here or as a link to your own site, please contact Emily Short (emshort@mindspring.com).

History and Historical Simulation

Interactive fiction can be used to simulate an environment or a historical event. Writing historical IF has proved successfully educational in several classrooms: students must research a variety of aspects of a location or event in order to portray it accurately. Playing historical IF, conversely, can offer students a memorable encounter with a historical period or event.

Instructional Materials

Inform Tutorial for history students, by Dr. Jeremiah McCall. The tutorial introduces room creation and description, object creation and description, and interaction with other characters (by asking them questions and giving them objects).

Inform Simulation Assignments and Rubrics, by Dr. Jeremiah McCall. Grading rubrics for IF projects used in the classroom.

Games

The Secret of Otter's Ransom: An Electronic, Interactive, Interdisciplinary Introduction to the Medieval North Atlantic, by Christopher Fee and his students and assistants, in the department of English at Gettysburg College.

Varronis Museum. By David Garcia. Simulates an upper-class Roman house as seen through the eyes of an adolescent girl.

Jigsaw. By Graham Nelson. A very difficult puzzle game based on the major events of the twentieth century; it is likely to require hints, even for understanding by adults, but may nonetheless be an interesting read.

1893. By Peter Nepstad. A commercial puzzle game simulating the Chicago World's Fair of 1893 in great detail. There is a mystery puzzle plot, but the fair can also be enjoyed simply as an environment: buildings, exhibits, livestock, and other features are meticulously researched and supported by photographs.

Lost New York. By Neil deMause. A game based around an exploration of the history of the city of New York. There are puzzles, but much of the enjoyment comes from exploring the environment.

Teacher Training

Winning Fafnir's Gold: Teaching with Digital Game-based Fiction, presented by Christopher Fee at Quinnipiac University. Professor Fee shares his experiences with game-based teaching using a multimedia, interactive fiction tool that he created and continues to develop. Fee's teaching approach is applicable to a wide range of disciplines and involves the nexus between student reading and writing, instructor digital asset management, and the shared pedagogical goal of student engagement.

Student-designed text-based simulation games for learning history: A practical approach to using Inform 7 in the history classroom, by Jeremiah McCall. Discusses assignments and practices for teaching history with IF in the ninth-grade classroom.

Languages

Communicating with an interactive fiction game requires the student to develop an active vocabulary in the target language, and to demonstrate understanding of considerable amounts of passive text. There are a handful of games written explicitly to teach language skills in specific languages; there are also a number of IF games in popular languages (including French, Spanish, German, and Russian) that might be adaptable into a lesson plan if the students were given appropriate help.

Games

Ausflug am Wochenende nach Munchen, by Dr. David Neville, Dr. Brett Shelton, and Dr. Brian McInnis. A game designed to teach the vocabulary and interactions required to negotiate a German train station. Expects some basic German knowledge from the player, but does come with PDF instructions and documentation of the vocabulary used in the game.

List of games implemented in multiple languages at the Interactive Fiction Database. These may or may not be suitable for learning any given language, but players who have enjoyed a game in their native language may be interested in trying it in another that they're studying.

Effectiveness Studies

Cybertext redux: using digital game-based learning to teach L2 vocabulary, reading, and culture, David O. Neville; Brett E. Shelton; Brian McInnis. Discusses the use of IF for foreign language teaching. (Full article requires pay access.)

Literature

Interactive fiction can introduce concepts and characters from literature in a memorable way, by bringing fictional settings to life or by dramatizing themes or concepts as the basis of puzzles.

Games

Voices of Spoon River, by Utah State University design students under the guidance of Dr. Brett Shelton. Introduces students to the Spoon River Anthology, through a series of related environments and puzzles.

Myth Mechanic, by Utah State University design students under the guidance of Dr. Brett Shelton. Introduces students to elements of classical, Middle Eastern, and Native American mythology, and connects these features with constellations.

Effectiveness Studies

Aligning game activity with educational goals: following a constrained design approach to instructional computer games, Brett E. Sheldon and Jon Scoresby. Presents key findings on using the Voices of Spoon River project in the classroom. (Full article requires pay access to Springerlink.)

Philosophy

Games

The Chinese Room, by Joey Jones and Harry Giles. An introduction to a wide variety of philosophical conundra and thought experiments. Suitable for late high-school students through adults.

Computer Science

Games

Lists and Lists, by Andrew Plotkin. An interactive tutorial in the Scheme programming language.