Mr Finlayson

Education and Technology

Pre-Myst

Posted by alexfinlayson on June 10, 2009

I was recently introduced to the work of Tim Rylands and Mark Warner through a primary school teachers group on the popular website Facebook. Both are teachers from the UK and pioneers of the varying ways we can use our increased access to ICT’s to benefit the education of our children. Their common method was the use of the popular computer game Myst to enhance the literacy skills of primary school students. As a keen gamer, or at least, a keen ex-gamer (some things are sacrificed with age and responsibility) I became very interested in the amazing benefits they both testified to… some of the work samples they display on their websites are truly sensational (check the above links) So, assuring my wife that it was completely necessary for work, I bought a copy of realMyst and soon became thoroughly confused. Aside from a very cryptic introduction sequence there was little in the way of instruction… my character just appeared on the docks of a mysterious mist-shrouded island beside a half submerged boat and that was it… game on. I had no weapons, no means to get any weapons and seemingly, no need to get any weapons – very different from the norm. The game itself was beautifully rendered and soon I realised just how clever and unique the concept was… the game forced you to behave as though you were really there… you suddenly appear on an island with no knowledge of how you came to be there… all you can do is explore… And that is exactly what I did… the more I explored, the more the benefits and classroom potential struck me… the descriptions of the landscapes alone would make for an amazing series of literacy lessons… superb for similes, metaphors, personification and poetic onomatopae. It soon became obvious that I could waste a long time exploring and never get to a stage whereby I would be proficient enough to utilise this game for its intended purpose… to teach literacy. I was sure my wife wouldn’t believe me if I was still playing a year later. So I searched the web and with the use of a very handy walkthrough, sped my way through the rest of the game… On Monday 11th May I introduced the idea to the class… their response was amazing. Already in the first snippet of the game they were enthralled, and the language they used to describe the opening scene truely convinced me that this would be a worthwhile venture… and so it begins…

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