“Yes! We aren’t doing any learning today,” I overhear one of my student’s whisper excitedly. I scan my eyes across the classroom, noticing the mixed reactions of disbelief and delight. I have just announced to my Year 4 class that we will be playing a computer game for our scheduled library lesson.
Yes, you read that right. A computer game. But there is a method to my madness.
Matt DesLauriers’ web-based generative art game Wayfinder reinvents the way in which we engage with poetry. This beautifully-designed game transports students to a magical world, enabling them to move through a forest of stirring leaves and flowers, revealing hidden poetry that breathes new life into the surrounding landscape. Through the power of gameplay, students are able to explore symbolic meaning and metaphor constructed in poetry, such as the give-and-take relationship humans have with the environment.
Let me paint a picture of the room mid-lesson. You know the face we often make when reaching the most exciting part of a great story? Or the extremely close proximity between a student’s head and the page when they are writing about their favourite topic? That was the image inside the classroom that day as a direct result of thoughtfully fusing literary learning and gameplay.
Digital games, such as Wayfinder, push the boundaries of the literary and challenge us to re-think our assumptions of what literature can do and be. It is particularly important that digital literary games are recognised for their educational value, so magical and memorable experiences, such as these, are not absent from the classroom. Through digital literary games, we can not only teach the curriculum but also foster a love of reading within our students. When it comes to developing lifelong readers, the path of pleasure is a method that will surely work!
By Natasha Lee
Masters in Education (Teacher Librarianship) student at Charles Sturt University
ALIA Student Placement 2022