Players win by enacting Shakespeare’s story, not by rewriting the ending. A Kickstarter campaign just launched at shakespearevideogame.com to build Something Wicked’s first installment, a free 5-minute mini-game. The free mini-game portrays an epic battle described in Act 1 Scene 2 of Shakespeare’s Macbeth.
Hunter explains how video games can help students learn about Shakespeare: “‘Being’ a famous character in a video game gives students a sense of ownership. It creates what learning scientists call ‘embodied learning’ and significantly enhances critical thinking. Something Wicked uses familiar video game mechanisms like rewards and boss battles to spotlight themes from Macbeth that can get buried under complicated, 400 year-old text.”
Despite this barrier, Shakespeare’s plays aren’t disappearing from English classes any time soon: reading the Bard is required by the Common Core English Language Arts standards.
With neuroscientists now confirming that “It is literally neurobiologically impossible to think deeply about things that you don’t care about,” (is.gd/1kOdi5) finding a way to get students emotionally invested in Shakespeare is crucial to their learning. Hunter, who also has a background as a theatre director and classroom teacher, is betting the popular medium of video games will help bridge the gap between Shakespeare and contemporary students.
Educators don’t have to wait for the game to be built to start using Something Wicked in classrooms today. A free, downloadable instructors’ guide is already on the website, shakespearevideogame.com, along with a pitch video and blog tracking the development process.
“People ask if we’re ‘gamifying’ Shakespeare,” Hunter clarifies. “The short answer is no. Something Wicked doesn’t sugarcoat something boring. There are already a lot of game-like elements in these plays. We’re using gameplay to spotlight the PLAY in Shakespeare."
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