Publisher: Dejobaan Games
Year Made: 2014
Platforms: PC, OS X, Linux
Content Areas: English, ESL
Suggested Age Level: Middle School, High School
Play Length: Infinite
Number of Players: Single Player
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Some games are rather obvious choices for their subject areas. Dejobaan Games and Popcannibal’s Elegy for a Dead World is the epitome of using games in an English Language Arts class. Inspired by the works of the great poets Shelley, Keats, and Byron, Elegy for a Dead World puts players in the role of an astronaut sent to three dead civilizations where he or she is tasked with recording what became of these once powerful civilizations. Players explore worlds that look like the love child of Romantic poets and science fiction writers and create their own version of events to be edited, published, and read by players across the world. It is a game that places story before action and lets the players themselves decide what happened.
Some people might see Elegy’s lack of competition or the stakes of winning and losing as a downside to the game. And they would be right, if that was the point of Elegy for a Dead World, but the game focuses instead on exploration, atmosphere, and creating the player’s own mythos around these literature-inspired dead planets. The only downside to the game is that there is not more variety in the world to explore. While there are numerous prompts within each world, the player is left wandering the same landscape each time. For players who wrote a story that they loved, it can feel odd (and eventually boring) to wander the same landscape on the hunt for a new story to pen. After being so excited to write my story about the society of rock people who could melt into the planet to hide (and were later so curious about the other planets that they finally allowed outsiders in...who promptly destroyed and enslaved them all), it was tough to walk back through the exact same landscape and think of a new demise or another angle.
Elegy for a Dead World walks players through writing, editing, collaborating on, and publishing a piece of writing, making the game an English Language Arts teacher’s dream. It pairs perfectly with any works by Shelley, Keats and Byron, because the worlds are directly inspired by their writing. These exercises could be used to explore how writers influence their works and how setting and plot impact each other. Several levels focus on English language learning in particular, providing exercises to correct and even add to, so the game would be an excellent addition to an ESL class or as practice in grammar in a language arts class.
Elegy for a Dead World opens discussions about the Romantic poets, introduces players to creative writing, helps them with grammar, and brings them into a community of other players-turned-writers. Best of all, it helps everyone find the writer in them. If ever a game was perfect for an English class, it is Elegy for a Dead World.
Educational Rating: 7/8
(Classroom Tech Friendly, Motivation, Concrete Learning, Additional Skills, Feedback, Difficulty, Accessibility, Extension)
Overall Rating: 7/8
(Immersion, Environment, Storyline, Replayability, Entertainment, Gameplay, Originality, User Control)