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Snapshot 5: Video gaming as a context

This snapshot describes how a teacher used the creation of a video game as the context for a year 11 English programme.


The students who took this level 6 English course knew that making their own video game would be the context for their learning. They were an eclectic, mixed ability group, mostly boys. A number had been disengaged in their previous English classes.

As the year progressed, the students developed their English language skills at the same time as they learned how to create their own video game.

Curriculum focus

Level 6

  • Creating and making meaning

Key concepts

Teacher action

The students learned about formal writing by playing a PS3 game in class, and then staging it as an event release, which required them to write a review of the game.

They close-viewed the video game The Prince of Persia (before it became a film) for storyline, setting, and characterization. They also close-viewed the graphic novel Maus I and II.

They then devised and wrote a back-story for their own game concept as part of a creative writing unit.

The students presented a product pitch (oral presentation) for their game concept based on the television programme Dragon's Den.

As part of their theme study, they analysed the presentation of heroes and villains in various texts.

The class viewed the completed video games and each student explained how they had constructed their visual text.

What happened?

From the start, the students were fully engaged and showing wicked creativity. Many of them had not previously written more than a page in English and now they were:

  • writing long video game reviews
  • writing creatively
  • persuading an audience to buy their game concept.

Some parents were amazed to see what their son/daughter had achieved.

The students believed in what they were doing. They were the experts in their game. They owned the knowledge and they had to develop and use many English language skills to create their game. These included:

  • Reading: Make connections by interpreting ideas within and between texts in their analysis of heroes and villains.
  • Writing: Understand how text conventions work together to create meaning and effect.
  • Presenting: Show a developed understanding of how to shape and organise texts for an audience and purpose.

The students demonstrated resilience as they encountered frequent new challenges with the software. As teacher, I learned a great deal from my students. They often helped solve the issues that we encountered and showed me facets of the game-making software that were new to me.


Games use a lot of storage space, so before you offer a course like this, discuss your plans with the IT department.

FPS Creator is a drop-and-place software package that allows students to create without having to code.

Platinum Arts has low-level, violence free software. Find it using any search engine. Sauerbraten-cube2 is another free software resource, but I have only recently discovered it so I am not sure how well it works. One student also found a software free install on the video game Far Cry 2.

Last updated July 17, 2012