Publisher: Majesco Entertainment
Year Made: 2005
Platforms: PC, Xbox, Xbox 360, PS2, PS3, OS X, Linux
Content Areas: English Language Arts
Suggested Age Level: Middle School, High School
Play Length: 13 hours
Number of Players: Single Player
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Psychic secret agents, telekinetic bears, and doorways into people’s minds are a few of the things you’ll find in Double Fine’s beloved game Psychonauts. As an acrobat named Raz, run away from the circus, break into a summer camp for future psychic secret agents, and harness your abilities to save the day from a mysterious person bent on stealing your friends’ brains. Ten years after its release, Psychonauts continues to entertain and inspire audiences with its inventive plot, creative characters, and quirky humor.
Psychonauts is a pretty long game to use in a classroom if you only want it as a supplemental resource. Clocking in at thirteen hours to complete on average, Psychonauts either needs to be given the time and attention it deserves to play through or focus could be given to a single level. The only other challenge is in-game. There is a part of the game where students need a large number of arrowheads (the game’s currency) for a piece of equipment, and it can be a bit frustrating to suddenly have to hunt for a lot of these arrowheads. Just let students know to collect as many as they can along the way!
There are a number of ways that Psychonauts could fit into an English class. First, the game is so creative and inventive in its story that it not only serves as an excellent example to future storytellers, but it also provides inspiration for students to do their own writing. The characters are so wild that they can inspire students to be as creative as they want with their own characters or continue writing what happens with the Psychonauts cast. With a community that loves the game and the natural humor and quirkiness of the game, students could even find an audience to read their stories and enjoy them as well. Second, it provides an example of how to use humor to captivate an audience. Finally, students could look into characterization. Each level inside a character’s mind fits them perfectly, including any deep secrets, an atmosphere suiting their personality, and even challenges related to who they are. For example, in a bright and psychedelic level where you’re bouncing around and racing, there is also a hidden room in her mind that shows she is far more than just a party girl. Students could create what their own mental levels would look like or they could take famous literary characters or historical figures and create the worlds that exist in their minds. They could even include the secret rooms, the hidden memories, what kind of figments appear, and what the final boss would look like. Students could start to see literary characters and historical figures as lively people with a number of layers to them.
After ten years of making players laugh with its quirky and creative story, Psychonauts continues to be a fan favorite and one that will leave your students begging for a sequel.
Educational Rating: 6/8
(Classroom Tech Friendly, Motivation, Concrete Learning, Additional Skills, Feedback, Difficulty, Accessibility, Extension)
Overall Rating: 6/8
(Immersion, Environment, Storyline, Replayability, Entertainment, Gameplay, Originality, User Control)